Surry County A.R.E.S.

Amateur Radio Emergency Service

About ARES

Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES)   

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 Membership Requirements

Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization is eligible to apply for membership in ARES.  Training may be required or desired to participate fully in ARES.  Please inquire at the local level for specific information.  Because ARES is an Amateur Radio program, only licensed radio amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership.


Training for ARES and RACES Required by North Carolina Emergency Management

NC Section ARES/RACES Training Policy

Our operations must comply with the National Incident Management System (NIMS). We operate under the Incident Command System (ICS) when activated.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) now requires all volunteers, including Amateur Radio operators to be certificated in at least IS 100,IS 200, IS 700 and IS 800 course material. For non-governmental employees and others without access to classroom instruction, these courses are available as on-line independent-study courses that are free of charge.


North Carolina Emergency Management Training Courses

These courses are mandated by the State of North Carolina. They are developed by the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA).

Download the ARES Field Manual

Grab - N - Go Kit

2M or 2M/70cm synthesized handheld radio

Alkaline battery pack and batteries for handheld radio

Car charger for HT

5/8 or wave gain antenna for handheld radio

Earphone for handheld radio

Copy of FCC radio license and ARES ID card with personal photo

Copy of radio manual (or ‘cheat sheet’) and frequencies stored in memory

Pouch/box with the following materials:

  • ARES Field Resources Manual ( … #5439)
  • ARRL North Carolina Section Guide (
  • N.I.F.O.G. version 1.4 (for printable copy click here)
  • ICS 217a for Wilkes County (see the Wilkes County EC)
  • Surry County 10 Code and EMS Codes (see the Surry County EC)
  • SkyWarn Protocol (Blacksburg NWS)…(
  • Surry County ARES Protocol (see the Surry County EC)
  • Map of Surry County (Surry County Chamber of Commerce)
  • ARRL Message Forms (
  • Sheets of blank paper / radio log
  • Pens and pencils

50 feet of coax (RG8 mini or better) with PL259 connectors

Miscellaneous connectors and adapters (PL259, BNC, SMA, barrel, etc.)

Flashlight (AA)

Personal first aid kit

Five dollars in bills and change

Pocket knife / Multi-tool

Roll of electrical tape

Any special size tools your radio uses like tiny screwdrivers, etc

Battery operated AM/FM radio

Scanner (and accessories) with local public service (optional)

Water (2 quarts minimum)

Light snacks

Your "favorite" pain relievers - Aspirin / Tylenol / Advil / Aleve / Sinus or Allergy Medicine / Rolaids or Tums / Chap Stick /

Hand cream / Throat lozenges / Imodium / Sun block / Mosquito repellant / etc.

National Weather Service


The effects of severe weather are felt every year by many Americans. To obtain critical weather information, NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, established SKYWARN® with partner organizations. SKYWARN® is a volunteer program with nearly 290,000 trained severe weather spotters. These volunteers help keep their local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service.

Although SKYWARN® spotters provide essential information for all types of weather hazards, the main responsibility of a SKYWARN® spotter is to identify and describe severe local storms. In the average year, 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods and more than 1,000 tornadoes occur across the United States. These events threatened lives and property.

Since the program started in the 1970s, the information provided by SKYWARN® spotters, coupled with Doppler radar technology, improved satellite and other data, has enabled NWS to issue more timely and accurate warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods.

SKYWARN® storm spotters are part of the ranks of citizens who form the Nation’s first line of defense against severe weather. There can be no finer reward than to know that their efforts have given communities the precious gift of time–seconds and minutes that can help save lives.

How does SKYWARN work?

SKYWARN, generally speaking, is placed on stand-by when a severe weather watch is posted by the National Weather Service. Once that watch is upgraded to a warning, SKYWARN may be activated and spotters are asked to make severe weather observations. After making an observation that is reportable, there are three ways to relay the information to the National Weather Forecast Office which include: telephone, amateur radio, and E-mail.

How do I become a SKYWARN Spotter?

All you need to do to become a member of the SKYWARN volunteer network is an interest in watching the sky and a dedication to helping save lives. You must be at least 16 years old, be able to observe weather (though no instruments are required), and have access to a telephone, internet, or be a licensed amateur radio operator so you can relay your reports by radio. You also must take a SKYWARN class, a free seminar that teaches you the basics of how SKYWARN operates, and how to recognize and report severe weather. All SKYWARN spotter training courses are free and are held in various sites throughout the 40 county NWS Blacksburg area of responsibility (see map below).

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