Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES)

How to Get your Amateur Radio License

  • Amateur radio requires a license – learn more at www.arrl.org/getting-licensed
  • To obtain your license you need to:
  • Testing is typically offered once a quarter on a Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to noon.  The sessions take place at the Hamilton County Emergency Operations Center.  The ARRL VE testing fee is $15.00.  Contact Joe March for additional information at joe.march@hamiltoncounty.in.gov.

About RACES


Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) is an organization of amateur radio operators who volunteer for Emergency Management for the purpose of providing tactical emergency support radio communications to federal, state and local governments in time of emergency, and to supplement, augment or replace radio communications wherever and whenever needed.

RACES was created in 1952, by the federal government, as an official program through which amateur radio operators could serve the government in an emergency situation. Since then, the RACES program has enabled amateur radio operators to perform varied emergency communications functions as an important supplement Emergency Management communications systems.

RACES is governed by Part 97, subpart E, of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Rules and Regulations.

RACES is called upon by Emergency Management when communication services are deemed necessary for response. They are activated in accordance with an approved Emergency Management communications plan in any emergency concerning:

  1. Safety of life
  2. Preservation of property
  3. Alleviation of human suffering and need
  4. Dissemination of warnings of any disaster or other incident endangering the public welfare.

Natural disasters often cripple or destroy communications facilities and equipment. RACES members are often asked to handle messages for police, fire, public welfare, public utilities, and other emergency services during emergencies.

RACES personnel receive training from Emergency Management to which they are attached. Operating skills are sharpened through participation in frequent Emergency Management sponsored exercises, tests, drills, programs, and special events.

Non-emergency messages and traffic may be transmitted during RACES training and drill periods.

RACES Membership

Individuals wanting to take part in a HCEM Volunteer program must;
1. Be 18 years of age or older
2. Have or obtain a Public Safety Identification # and a 
FEMA Student Identification # 
3. Successfully complete a background check within seven days of submitting the online application (find link to background check form and policy below)
4. Complete program training requirements and submit proof completed (see training requirement section on this page)
5. Submit the 
online volunteer application

HCEM BACKGROUND CHECK FORM - Background checks can be processed for free at the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office. Located at 18100 Cumberland Road in Noblesville, Indiana. Hours for background check to be processed are 8:30 am - 4:00 pm., Monday thru Friday. Applicants must bring the following with them; a completed HCEM Background Check form, and a valid driver’s license. 

HCEM Background Check Policy:
All volunteers shall undergo a background check upon initial application and every two years after the volunteers start date. The purpose of the background check is to provide the citizens of Hamilton County with well-qualified volunteers who can serve in a public safety capacity as an “Emergency Management Worker” under Indiana Code 10-14-3-3.Volunteers who do not have a record with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Department or other law enforcement agencies maybe accepted into the program.  Individuals with a negative record may not be considered for volunteer positions.  

For questions, contact Joe March at joe.march@hamiltoncounty.in.gov