New York City Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Service

Frequently Asked Questions about the New York City
Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Service (NYC-ARECS)

Who makes up the membership of the NYC-ARECS?

NYC-ARECS is made up of men and women of New York City who come from all different walks of life, but who all have an interest in radio / communications technology and who have tested and passed a licensing examination by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. Our members are professions from various backgrounds including: engineers, federal employees, academia, medicine, public safety agencies, the military, etc.

What do your federally licensed radio operators do during and after disasters?

NYC-ARECS radio operators are capable of setting up and operating organized communication networks locally for governmental and emergency officials, as well as noncommercial communication for private citizens affected by the disaster. This may include voice and/or data communications, across the city or across the country. Our radio operators are most likely to be active after disasters that damage regular lines of communications due to power outages and destruction of hard-wire telephone lines or damage to the cellular communication system.

How do your radio operators help local officials?

Many radio operators are active as communications volunteers with local public safety organizations. In addition, in some disasters, because radio frequencies are not coordinated among relief officials, radio operators can assist in the coordination of communications when radio towers and other elements in the communications infrastructure are damaged.

What type of equipment does the NYC-ARECS utilize?

The following page has several examples of the equipment used by our members when training for, or assisting during, emergency operations.

Why do teams such as the NYC-ARECS exist in a world of cell phones?

Major emergencies can strike anywhere, anytime, without warning. Often, existing means of communications, be they landline telephone, cellular phone or wireless radio links, become unusable because they are overloaded or simply no longer exist. They get overloaded when too many persons try at the same time to dial for help or to check on a friend or family member in a disaster area. They can become nonexistent when wires and towers topple and electrical supplies fail, due to acts of nature or terrorism. When emergency agencies are required in a zone of disaster, their regular means of communications can be affected by the same disruptive causes as others. That creates a need for a supplemental or back-up communications system, one that comes complete with equipment and trained operators who are licensed by the U.S. Government, all at no cost to the public or the agency involved.

Why do you assist in public service events?

NYC-ARECS members are available to donate their time and expertise to support public service agencies when normal communications facilities are not functioning or are overloaded due to planned or unplanned events. However, during the year, NYC-ARECS also provides communications support for nonprofit community events. This not only helps the community, but gives us live experience in handling radio traffic for agencies that might call upon us for emergency communications in the future. This is a link to a list of our upcoming public service events.

Did your team members assist on September 11, 2001?

Members of NYC-ARECS were activated during the 9/11 attack. At the time, Charles Hargrove (N2NOV), the NYC-ARECS co-founder and current President, was the New York City ARRL District Emergency Coordinator and Citywide RACES Radio Officer on 9/11. Over 500 amateur radio operators helped provide assistance during the emergency. Here is the NYC-ARECS 9/11 page.

How do I join NYC-ARECS ??

Our organization is made up of New York City based licensees of the Federal Communications Commission who specialize in Amateur Radio emergency communications. We also have Auxiliary Members that are those who do not hold amateur radio licenses but want to serve in a support capacity. Please visit this page to learn on how you can become a Member.

How do we reach your team for an interview or more information?

Please feel free to email us at We will get back to you the same day.