The Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment with their local ARES leadership for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. ARES can be activated before, during, or after an emergency event, and provides for emergency communication needs, including those between emergency management officials.
Although ARES is not specifically defined in the FCC Part 97 rules covering Amateur Radio, ARES communications are governed by all applicable Part 97 rules, where RACES communications (see below) are limited by the rules specified in §97.407. As a result, ARES communications can be more flexible.
The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) is a service of amateur radio established by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) in Part 97, subpart E, paragraph 97.407 of the FCC rules which govern Amateur Radio in the United States. RACES provides for Amateur Radio communication during a declared civil emergency event working under the direction of a governmental organization (eg. emergency managment) for the area being served.
RACES operations are activated by a emergency management officials and is active until the emergency is over, or for a limited time after the emergency if the emergency management officials require additional communication support.