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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the VEM RACES program?

The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service was established by a US Congressional Act in 1952 to provide emergency communications in times of disaster.  The RACES program provides governmental emergency communications in support of disaster response and is coordinated through Vermont Emergency Management.

How do I activate the RACES program?

RACES members may be activated 24 hours a day in 2 ways.  By contacting the Vermont Emergency Management Watch Officer at 1-800-347-0488, RACES members within your area and at VEM will be activated to staff the radio system.  Each hospital will additionally be provided with local RACES operators and may contact them directly.  Each operator will then notify VEM of the activation.  For non-activation issues the VEM RACES program coordinator may be contacted at 1-800-347-0488.   

Who can operate the RACES radio system?

Any licensed RACES radio member can operate the radio system.  Since there are many licensed amateur radio operators, it is important that they are part of the RACES system.  This ensures that your critical health and welfare messages are communicated in the correct way and that you know exactly who is operating the radio within your facility.  Each VEM RACES operator will have an identification card issued from VEM.  Hospitals may choose to identify staff members who may be licensed and become RACES operators.

What information should be transmitted with this system?

Pursuant to FCC rules, the RACES radio system may be used to communicate health and welfare messages when emergency conditions exist within your community, the state or nationwide.  The RACES network provides emergency communications when standard communication systems are overwhelmed or not working. 

What entities can be contacted through the RACES radio system?

Once activated, RACES stations may be contacted.  This includes the Emergency Operations Center at Vermont Emergency Management, other Vermont hospitals, and the Vermont Department of Health and their district offices.  Other designated stations are within the Vermont Yankee response area and any other RACES station that may be established during an incident.  Stations outside of Vermont can alos serve as contact points as dictated by the event.

When will the radio system be tested and maintained?

VEM will test the RACES network on a quarterly basis.  During the course of the year, local and statewide drills will take advantage of the RACES radio system.