Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (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 times 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 to Emergency Management communications systems.

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

How to Get your Amateur Radio License

  • Amateur radio requires a license – learn more at
  • To obtain your license you need to:
  • Testing is offered once a quarter on a Saturday starting at 10:30 a.m. sharp.  The sessions take place at the Hamilton County Emergency Operations Center located at 18100 Cumberland Road, Noblesville, IN.  The ARRL VE testing fee is $15.00 (please pay in cash with exact change).  
    • Please contact Joe March, RACES Program Coordinator, for additional information at
    • Upcoming testing sessions are listed below
      • Saturday, January 20, 2024, starting at 10:30a
      • Saturday, April 20, 2024, starting at 10:30a
      • Saturday, July 27, 2024, starting at 10:30a
      • Saturday, October 19, 2024, starting at 10:30a

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 an HCEM Volunteer program must:

  1. Be 18 years of age or older
  2. Have a PSID and a FEMA SID #
  3. Submit your online application
  4. We will contact you to schedule an interview. During the interview, you will complete forms for a background check.
  5. Complete fingerprinting at the Hamilton County Sherriff's office.  You will receive an email with directions after your fingerprints have been submitted.
  6. Complete program training requirements and submit proof of completion.
  7. Submit certificates of completion of FEMA Independent Study (IS) Courses: IS-100 and IS-700.

HCEM Background Check Policy:
All volunteers shall undergo a background check upon initial application and every two years after the volunteer’s 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. Individuals with a negative record may not be considered for volunteer positions.  

For questions, contact Joe March at