A.C.S. 
Auxiliary  Communications  Service
Steve Weber, ACS Coordinator

ACS Training Meeting in EOC




MEETINGS

Unless otherwise indicated, meetings will be held at the Bradley County Emergency Operations Center, 1555 Guthrie Drive, Cleveland, TN 37311

ACS meetings are generally the 3 rd Thursday of each month @7pm.

 



ACS NET FORMATS

Combined BC Emer Svs Net Preamble

SE TN SKYWARN Net Preamble


ACS is the Auxiliary Communications Service

Auxiliary Communications Service, or ACS, is a concept adopted by a number of communities across the country to facilitate amateur radio communications in a disaster.  Usually aligned with a government agency providing relief services, local chapters of ACS are comprised of volunteer amateur radio operators who provide essential communications and warning links as a supplement to local and state government communications.   

Membership requires satisfactory completion of required training to remain on active status as a volunteer for the Cleveland – Bradley County Emergency Management Agency. 


The Evolution of ACS

Prior to 2005, amateur radio disaster communications in Bradley County were affiliated with one of three organizations which each having their own operating guidelines and structure. They are: 

  • RACES – Founded in 1952, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (abbreviated RACES) is a public service provided by a reserve (volunteer) communications group within government agencies in times of extraordinary need.  During periods of RACES activation, certified unpaid personnel are called upon to perform many tasks for the government agencies they serve. Although the exact nature of each activation is different, the common thread is communications.  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is responsible for the regulation of RACES operations.  RACES is administered by a local, county, or state civil defense agency responsible for disaster services, and is a part of the Emergency Management Agency in Bradley County.
  • ARES – The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communication duty in the public service when disaster strikes. ARES is the emergency services division of the American Radio Relay League, which is recognized as the largest amateur radio organization in the world. Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization, is eligible for membership in the ARES.  The only qualification, other than possession of an amateur radio license, is a sincere desire to serve.  Because ARES is an amateur service, only amateurs are eligible for membership.  The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership.
  • SKYWARN –  SkyWarn is a nationwide network of volunteer storm spotters trained by the National Weather Service (NWS) to report significant weather. Anyone with an interest in weather is welcome to participate.  To become a trained storm spotter, you need to attend a training session offered at various times and places across the Morristown County Warning Area.

This structure offered some problems utilizing resources.  Some amateurs were members of all three organizations.  Others affiliated with one and in some instances two.  So, in 2004, Bradley County RACES initiated discussions to form a single organization.  

The result was an agreement to consolidate all amateur communications under the local agency coordinating disaster preparedness, the Cleveland – Bradley County Emergency Management Agency (CBCEMA). 

ACS draws on the full contingent of amateur radio resources giving the EMA an effective tool for management and utilization of personnel from RACES, ARES, SkyWarn, and other amateur organizations such as the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS).  ACS resources are normally mobilized at the same time as other public safety resources responding to and recovering from an incident.

RACES operations are carried out in accordance with FCC Rules and Regulations. 


Purpose of ACS

The purpose of ACS is to give an organizational foundation for Amateur Radio operators to provide essential communications during periods of national, state, or local emergency, under the direction of the CBCEMA.

The resources of ACS may be shared with other counties under the direction of the CBCEMA.


Organizational Structure

ACS is under the direction of the ACS Coordinator, who is appointed by the Director of the CBCEMA from members of the organization.

The coordinator acts as a liaison with the E-M-A staff and members of the organization.   He /she assigns personnel to tasks as directed by the EMA, and establishes the organizations command structure. 

 

Becoming a Member

Membership in ACS is open to licensed amateur radio operators in Bradley County or adjacent counties willing to volunteer their time, equipment, and efforts.  Requirements are completion of FEMA courses ICS 100, 200, 700 and 800.  These courses provide a foundation of the training needed to work in a disaster.

Information on how to become an amateur radio operator is available from two local clubs. 

The Cleveland Amateur Radio Club meets on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month (except December) at their clubhouse at 560 Johnson Boulevard.  Club members are available on Saturday mornings to prepare for the entry level license, the Technician, or to upgrade to the General or Extra licenses.  The club also offers amateur radio license examinations on the third Saturday at 10 a.m.  License testing is not offered in December.

The Ocoee Amateur Radio Society meets on the first Monday of each month at the #1 Cleveland Fire Station on South Ocoee Street..  Club members actively participate in many aspects of amateur radio including contesting and emergency communications

Most participants in ACS have membership in one or both of these clubs.   


Training Offered

ACS offers training as part of regular meetings that are held on the third Thursday of the month at 7:00 p.m. (unless otherwise specified) at the Cleveland – Bradley County Emergency Management Agency.  Addition training is provided during weekly on-the-air nets on the 146.925 MHz repeater.  Nets are generally about an hour in length and include information about upcoming ACS activities.  To access the repeater your radio must be programmed with the input and output frequencies and a sub audible 114.8 Hz tone.

ACS participates in disaster drills for the Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant, the Watts Bar Nuclear Power Plant, and the Olin and Arch Chemical company plants. These drills ensure we are prepared when an event occurs. 

For information about membership contact the Cleveland – Bradley County Emergency Management Agency at 1555 Guthrie Avenue, Cleveland TN, or call 423-728-7289.