New York City Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Service

Do you wish to interact more with your community? Activity in NYC-ARECS is a great way to meet your neighbors and to help out your city. There is also the satisfaction of helping those in need of assistance. The Mayor of New York City has called on New Yorkers to volunteer, and this is something we highly agree with.

Amateur Radio emergency operators set up and operate organized communication networks locally for governmental and emergency officials, as well as noncommercial communication for private citizens affected by the disaster. Amateur Radio operators are most likely to be active after disasters that damage regular lines of communications due to power outages and destruction of telephone, cellular and other infrastructure-dependent systems.

Our Mission

New York City Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Service (NYC-ARECS) is a NYC based auxiliary communications service. The over-arching mission of NYC-ARECS is to provide timely, quality, and proficient auxiliary radio communications to served agencies and organizations--our "clients"--for a variety of emergency situations and special events. We are all personally bound to public service with a commitment to our local communities.

Who We Are & Why We Exist

Our organization is made up of New York City based licensees of the Federal Communications Commission who specialize in Amateur Radio emergency communications. Our Members are trained and dedicated to providing radio communications for governments, as well as civil-preparedness and relief agencies, during periods of local, regional, or national civil emergencies. These emergencies may include natural disasters (such as fires, floods or earthquakes) or acts of terrorism. We also have Auxiliary Members that do not hold amateur radio licenses, but want to serve in a support capacity.

While the organization of NYC-ARECS started in late 2003 (and it's constitution ratified by it's Members in March 2004), our roots are deep in amateur radio public service and emergency communications dating back to the 1980's through other organizations. Past activations include: 1992 Coastal Storm, 1996 Blizzard, Hurricane Floyd, Y2K, 9/11-WTC Attack, the 2002 Con Edison Fire & Blackout, the Staten Island Oil Barge Explosion, the Blackout of 2003, the December 2004 Tsunami and others. These well trained and dedicated people saw a need to form an organization that was not controlled by those who lived outside the greatest city in the world - New York City. A member run organization was formed to chart it's own course in training, special event public service and readiness.

NYC-ARECS is a custom-tailored solution to the challenges of volunteer emergency and event communication in the nation's largest city. While the founding NYC-ARECS Members have extensive experience working with the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES©), NYC-ARECS is not affiliated with that group. ARES© was created over half a century ago by the American Radio Relay League (a private organization) and franchised around the country. As distinguished as ARES© has become, the "one-size-fits-all" approach sometimes does not adapt well to local circumstances. New York City, a single, densely-populated municipality that covers five semi-autonomous counties, has unique communications needs that NYC-ARECS is specifically designed to address.

NYC-ARECS is a member-run organization. Our citywide Members elect a President and Secretary for the group each year, and Members in each borough elect a Vice-President for that borough. All of the officers are bound by the NYC-ARECS Constitution and By-Laws, which can be amended only with the approval of the membership.

Q: I like public-service hamming, and want to work events. Will NYC-ARECS offer that?

A: Not only will we offer it, we strongly encourage it! The official list of NYC-ARECS events is posted on the EVENTS page. The founding Members of NYC-ARECS include the ham radio organizers for over a dozen events around New York City. These include several walk-athons and bike-athons, a major triathlon, and an outrigger canoe race (no kidding!). Join NYC-ARECS if you want to enjoy all the action.

Q: I'm currently a member of ARES©. Do I have to quit them to be a member of NYC-ARECS?

A: Absolutely not. If you are a satisfied member of ARES©, there is no need to quit. Nor is membership in either group a prerequisite for joining NYC-ARECS. NYC-ARECS is completely independent of ARES©.

Q: If there's an emergency and amateur operators are needed, will NYC-ARECS be active?

A: As you'll see in the Constitution and By-Laws, emergency preparedness and training are very important parts of the NYC-ARECS mission. The founding Members have already worked closely with several potential "served agencies," including Citizen Emergency Response Teams, Disaster Assistance Teams, hospitals, the American Red Cross, the U.S. Coast Guard and it's Auxiliary, the Salvation Army, and the NYC Office of Emergency Management. NYC-ARECS founders were heavily involved in leading the amateur radio responses to the 9/11 attacks, the Staten Island barge fire, the August 2003 Northeast blackout, and numerous other disasters. We also support the activities of the US Department of Homeland Security / FEMA Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) program as outlined in FCC rules Part 97. We are confident that during an emergency, many disaster services organizations will be working with us.

Q: Does NYC-ARECS have a club callsign?

A: Yes. For emergencies and some special events, our FCC-issued club callsign is WC2OEM.

Q: I see in the By-Laws that I have to maintain "active" membership by meeting certain standards. If I can't make that commitment, will I be thrown out?

A: No. If you cannot maintain "active" membership, your name will be moved to a list of "inactive" members, who are considered full members of the group, except that they cannot vote. Inactive members can participate in events, come to meetings, check into nets, and so on - and if they do enough of those things, they will automatically be put back on the "active" roster.

Q: If there's an emergency and NYC-ARECS gets called, will I have to participate in order to remain an active member?

A: No. Nobody can "draft" you into an emergency response, and there is no penalty if you can't make it. Obviously, we hope that hams interested in serving the public will want to help out in times of need. In emergencies, though, it's perfectly understandable if some people can't.

Q: Can non-radio operators become Members of NYC-ARECS?

A: Yes, and we encourage it. They will be Auxiliary Members. They can help in many different roles, including helping at events by assisting with observations, or virtually by becoming part of a Virtual Operations Support Team (VOST), a recent concept in emergency management. VOST as applied to emergency management / communications and disaster recovery is an effort to make use of new communication technologies and social media so that a team of trusted agents can lend support via the Internet to those on-site at an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) who would otherwise be overwhelmed by the volume of data generated during a disaster. A VOST Auxiliary Member of NYC-ARECS would engage with various social media platforms to:

  • Gather situational awareness from the community about the hazard or threat scenario;
  • Identify developing questions and key concerns being voiced within a community;
  • Funnel information gathered from news media, civilians and public safety personnel to NYC-ARECS Members;
  • Share, not create, official information from the team Public Information Officer (PIO);
  • Etc.

Auxiliary Members that desire to obtain their FCC radio licenses, will be assisted as NYC-ARECS will be offering licensing classes and testing ("VE") sessions regularly. We can also assist as needed with providing training and study materials and resources..

Q: Do I have to be a resident of New York City to join NYC-ARECS?

A: Yes. NYC-ARECS Members must live in one of the five boroughs of New York City. Auxiliary Members may live outside the NYC area.

Membership Requirements

If you do NOT have a FCC license but are interested in obtaining one, we can help! We can provide you with training materials, guidance, encouragement, and a date and place for you to take your test. Several of our Members are also FCC Volunteer Examiners who are accredited staff that are qualified to provide the test necessary to become a licensed Amateur Radio operator.

Facts you should know about becoming a new Amateur radio operator:

1) The FCC test pool questions and study material is available online for free.
2) The test costs less than $20.00
3) No Morse code is required
4) An entry level Amateur Radio can cost less than $75.00
5) You will be joining a hobby of a lifetime!

The membership requirements of the NYC-ARECS are the following:

  • You must be a New York City resident and hold a valid FCC amateur radio license. (Unless you are an Auxiliary Member)
  • You must not have a criminal background;
  • You must have a desire to train;
  • You must be willing to provide emergency communications services to NYC agencies;
  • You must have a sense of duty and commitment to be prepared;
  • You must be mature and be willing to communicate clearly with fellow team Members;
  • You want to have fun while meeting new people and serving your community!
  • are asked to check into a minimum 26 of 52 weekly radio nets, attend occasional meetings, participate in at least 4 public service training events (races, walks, etc.) per year and complete disaster preparedness training.

Your first year of membership will be an informal probationary period. During this time you will learn proper radio technique, net operations and complete the required training described on our NYC-ARECS Training Opportunities page.

We encourage you to have:

  • One (1) dual-band (2m/70cm) HT or one (1) each of monobanders for 2m and 70cm
  • One (1) dual-band (2m/70cm) mobile rig or one (1) each of monobanders for 2m and 70cm

It is recommended that you have a hi-gain mobile, mag-mount, or other suitable antenna for field use

Some form of backup portable emergency power source (sealed lead acid battery, gel-cell battery, etc.)


Click Here for a List of Frequently Asked Questions about NYC-ARECS

Volunteer Positions Available

Click Here for an Application Form


"No matter how big and powerful government gets, and the many services it provides,
it can never take the place of volunteers.
" --President Ronald Reagan