Ham Radio (RACES)

Amateur "Ham" Radio & RACES

    Monroe County EMA is proud to work with numerous local Amateur Radio operators (also known as hams) who volunteer their time, knowledge, and resources to assist with communications.  Working as part of the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), hams are able to provide backup communications when normal modes of communication have failed.  Hams have a long history of public service throughout the country and have been invaluable in many disasters from hurricanes & floods to forest fires & earthquakes. 

    In our county, hams have been active during hurricanes Ivan, Dennis, & Katrina.  These hams played a significant role in not only providing communications, but they also assisted with setting up shelters, maintained emergency power at the shelter, EOC, and communications sites.  They also maintain and deploy the Monroe County Incident Support Unit, and participate in preparedness planning and disaster exercises.

How to become a "Ham"

    The Amateur Radio Service is a federally licensed radio service regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  To become a ham radio operator, you must first pass a written test administered by a team of volunteer examiners.  Tests are given regularly throughout the state, so it's not usually difficult to find a testing session, when you get ready.

    There are three license classes, and NONE REQUIRE A MORSE CODE TEST! The three classes are Technician, General, & Extra.  Each level requires an exam, and you must start with the Technician license and work your way up.  Most anyone can pass the technician exam by studying the license manual and taking some practice tests.  License manuals (study guides) and online practice tests are available for all license classes.