Briefing Room: a look at Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (R.A.C.E.S)

Hi Seal Beach,

I’m back this week to discuss another great group of volunteers.  Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (R.A.C.E.S.) is a public service comprised of dedicated amateur radio operators, also known as HAMS. This group of volunteers provides communication personnel to the City of Seal Beach in times of extraordinary need.

R.A.C.E.S. operations are in two basic functions. First, they observe and report on local conditions in their neighborhood during an emergency or disaster. Second, R.A.C.E.S. members are an important member of the Emergency Operations Center; they handle incoming emergency messaging traffic, operate the Amateur Television, assist with communications at the Incident Command Post, and more. To learn more about races, or to get an application, visit the R.A.C.E.S. website below.

One of their members, Mr. Dick Crowe, wrote more about R.A.C.E.S.

“For well over 100 Years Amateur Radio Operators have provided emergency communication when disasters strike; Tornadoes, Floods,  Hurricanes, Earthquakes, Fires and a host of other emergency needs “when all else fails”. Although there are a myriad of communication tools available such as Cell Phones, the Internet, landlines, etc. facts such as the failure of other emergency tools during the Northridge and the recent Humboldt County Earthquake are a testimony of how Amateur Radio fills the emergency communication needs.

“In 1952 the Federal Communication Commission  (FCC) formed RACES units throughout the US administered by FEMA and a local Civil Defense organized. In the case of Seal Beach and Los Alamitos RACES falls under the administration of the local Police Departments. In Orange County the Sheriff administers a countywide RACES consortium.

“Our local RACES Team will be conducting an Earthquake simulation drill on Saturday April 29 beginning at 9:00AM. This is a simple drill requiring strategically located RACES members to provide the local RACES Net Control Operator and the Police Incident Commander a “first view” of any emergency needs throughout the City. The advantage of this is that the neighborhood assessment is a very quick summary of local needs.

“RACES members provide their own equipment and volunteer their time weekly with NET Check-Ins and semi-monthly In-Person meetings for additional training and technical subjects.

“The tools that RACES members use include Repeating Station, MESH System of repeating NODES some with cameras and Solar Module panels for battery charging and backup, laptop computers for written instructions and communication links to the emergency radios in hospitals.

“We welcome existing Amateurs, or those who would like to have fun with this hobby and yet provide community needed communication service to our two cities. For more information visit  We will train you on how to obtain an Amateur Radio Technician license.”

For questions or more information about the R.A.C.E.S. program, please contact West-Comm Director Kassandra Bowden at