Recruit, train and organize volunteer amateur radio operators to plan and deliver efficient and effective emergency communications to public Agencies, private Agencies and other stakeholders during major emergencies and disasters.
The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) is a volunteer organization of amateur radio operators. Since 1935, ARES has provided radio communications in North America in times of need.
In these modern times of cellular phones and the Internet, we take instant communications for granted. We forget how fragile our communications systems are. We forget that only one critical piece of communications infrastructure has to fail or become overloaded to render it unusable in times of emergency!
What does ARES do?
ARES provides emergency radio communications:
- When the ice storm of 1998 blacked out parts of Quebec and Ontario,
- When the city of Houston, Texas was flooded in 2001, knocking out telephone service and emergency power
- When tornadoes struck Edmonton in 1987, overloading the telephone lines and when a massive tornado struck the Pine Lake camp ground in July 2000
- When the threat of Y2K loomed
- And in countless other emergency or disaster situations all over the World
Operators with the Amateur Radio Equipment volunteered their services and equipment for the duration.
Every ARES member in Canada is licensed by Industry Canada to own, maintain and operate private radio equipment. We use VHF and UHF radios for local communications, and HF (short wave) radios for province-wide and international communications. We can use the province-wide network of amateur repeater stations to send emergency messages.
ARES is part of the Field Services Organization of the Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC). RAC is the official national society for Canada which is recognized by the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), the organization which links together all the national amateur radio societies in the World.
Municipalities and Emergency Agencies
Make ARES a part of your emergency plan. When a disaster happens, we can provide extra radio equipment and trained operators, in conjunction with local radio clubs which normally provide emergency infrastructure, such as repeater stations which will operate on emergency power.
We do not use or “take over” your communications systems. We offer supplemental communications, using our own equipment on our own frequencies. We can, for example, set up a temporary station at an emergency shelter, to handle health and welfare inquiries.
ARES is an official communications provider for the Canadian Red Cross. Emergency Measures Ontario and the Ontario Provincial Police also maintain amateur radio stations for emergency use. We also work closely with Environment Canada and the CANWARN severe weather-spotting network.
Your local contact is the ARES Emergency Coordinator (EC) or the local ARES. Your local EC or group will be happy to meet with you to explain ARES and discuss your needs.
We provide communications for public events. If you’re planning a parade, or a walk-a-thon, or any large event, we can provide portable radios and volunteer operators.
There is never any charge for our services. This is part of our training as radio operators, and part of our “public service” mission.
Consult with your local ARES Emergency Coordinator or group to discuss your event, and determine your radio need.
Please volunteer for ARES!
Anyone with an amateur radio licence can register with ARES. There are no dues and no obligations, other than to help however you can in an emergency.
You don’t need to be a member of RAC. You don’t need more than a Basic licence. You don’t need any special equipment. Even if you don’t own any equipment at all we need licensed amateur operators.
We provide training in emergency communications, traffic handling and net procedures. We stage annual exercises like Field Day and Simulated Emergency Tests (SET).
To volunteer, contact your local Emergency Coordinator or Group, or contact the Radio Amateurs of Canada.