RACES: Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service in Harford County

What is Harford County RACES?

Harford County’s appointed RACES Officer: Jeffrey Matthews, KB3LFG

RACES Radio Amateur Civil Emergency ServiceHarford County Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) serves the citizens of Harford County, enabling trained volunteer Amateur Radio personnel to provide emergency, backup and supplemental communications to state, county, local and federal emergency management agencies.  In short, we provide communications support for emergency response agencies during natural or technological disasters, using two‐way radios (Radio Amateur, GMRS, FRS, Trunked, etc.), computers, and other equipment.

Harford County RACES is sponsored by and operates with authority from the Harford County Department of Emergency Services.

Mission Statement

To establish and maintain the leadership and organizational infrastructure necessary to provide emergency, backup, and supplemental communications support to the Department of Emergency Services, its affiliated departments and agencies, and the citizens of Harford County.

When is Harford County RACES activated?

Natural and man-made disasters have the potential to significantly impact and/or overload communication infrastructure. Harford County RACES , when activated by the Harford County Emergency Manager or his/her designate, provides emergency, backup, or supplemental communications to the Department of Emergency Services or to fire/EMS, police, public works, hospital, or other governmental or emergency service groups, as directed. The call up of Harford County RACES personnel occurs in accordance with the Harford County Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) in support of, but not limited to, the following operations:

  • Safeguarding of life and the protection of property
  • Maintenance of law and order
  • Dissemination of information prior to, during, and after a natural or man-made disaster
  • Dissemination of alerts/warnings related to a natural or man-made disaster

Our licensed Amateur Radio operators maintain readiness through formal training, regular communication nets, and participation in official emergency exercises such as the biannual Peach Bottom Exercise.

How does RACES operate in an emergency?

When an incident is imminent or occurring and Harford County Department of Emergency Services (DES) activates RACES, our personnel are assigned to one or more facilities located throughout the county in accordance with the Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) and the Harford County RACES Operations Manual. The County Radio Officer (CRO), or designee, under the direction of DES, will assign personnel to shelters, reception centers, and/or other incident sites. Once deployed, personnel are assigned to one or more nets under the supervision of a Net Control Operator (NCO).

Why volunteer with Harford County RACES?

Harford County RACES is a great place to volunteer one’s time and efforts. Some of our volunteers have been active in emergency service organizations or emergency communications for many years, so activities are meaningful and relevant. Activities can include field response with mobile communication vehicles, usage of mobile or portable radios, satellite phones, computers, equipment caches, inter-operable equipment; or it can be to support operations at the County’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), hospitals, universities, warming/cooling centers, reception centers, and/or mass care shelters. Our personnel also act as mutual aid liaisons between emergency communication units in Maryland’s 25 jurisdictions, adjoining states, and Federal agencies.

Harford County RACES personnel train alongside full-time emergency response personnel and they can enroll in formal training classes offered by the Emergency Management Institute (EMI), as well as, state and local agencies. Following a routine background check, personnel are issued credentials certifying that they have satisfied all county requirements as defined in the EOP and the Harford County RACES Operations Manual.

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