Amateur radio operators have been involved with both public service communications and emergency communications since 1913. In the early days, the involvement without any coordination. According to the PUBLIC SERVICE COMMUNICATIONS MANUAL, published by the ARRL,
"As time progressed, the need for and value of organization became evident, resulting in the establishment of organized trunk lines and net systems; later the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) and the National Traffic System (NTS) were formed to complete the organization."
The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) is a part of the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) Field Organization.
ARES consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. 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.
While the primary activity of ARES is to provide emergency communications during disasters, ARES also provides essential communications for public events including parades, marathons and other races, walkathons, bicycle tours, and other large events where swift, reliable communications can protect and improve the safety of the general public.
To achieve these goals, ARES provides amateur radio operators with training in emergency communications, directed net procedures and on-air discipline, formal message handling, and emergency preparedness.
In New York City, ARES groups are organized by borough and are coordinated by the individual Emergency Coordinator (EC). It is at the borough level where most of the real emergency organizing gets accomplished. This is the level at which ARES leaders make direct contact with the ARES member-volunteers. The local EC is therefore the key contact in the ARES. The EC is appointed by the Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC), on the recommendation of the District Emergency Coordinator (DEC). The DEC acts as the point of contact with the served clients, city-wide agencies and events that cross borough lines. He/she coordinates the efforts of the Emergency Coordinators so that the volunteer response is fluid and efficient.
If you are interested in joining ARES in New York City, please link to the contact page and get in touch with your local Emergency Coordinator.