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Updated: 2008-08-17

Amateur Radio Emergency Services

ARES is a subset of the Ham Radio hobby that involves public service.  It primarily deals with communications in times of distress when normal communications are either not working or overloaded.  Our local group is registered with the City of North Bay and is part of the Community Emergency Plan.  We also have 5 VHF/UHF antennae placed at strategic locations within the City of North Bay awaiting hookup of an amateur radio to make an instant communications post.

A secondary function - which also provides training in message handling - is to provide communications for groups to assist them in running events.  An example of this, that involves our group on an annual basis, is the  "Lost in the Rocks And Trees" mountain bike enduro race between Mattawa and North Bay.  Most of the route is not covered by CellPhone and we are able to track the riders at checkpoints and update the finish line to ensure all competitors complete the race safely.

There is an agreement between ARES and the Canadian Red Cross, and many of our ARES members have also taken the Registration and Inquiry course from Red Cross. We can assist at evacuation shelters if they are activated due to peacetime emergencies.

Why do hams do this?  Well it is no secret that we like to communicate.  In times of distress some of the first things to fail or get overloaded are the normal communication links that people depend on.  Remember the power outage in August 2003?  Cell phones stopped working after a few hours in most areas. The amateur 40 metre band (which provides almost province wide coverage most of the day) proved to be an invaluable resource to determine where the power had been restored.  I operated mobile from my car in the parking lot at work, and was able to not only provide information to my co-workers but over the 2 metre band to the City of North Bay Emergency Operations Centre as well.

Our local EC (Emergency Coordinator) is Bill va3spt, and he has three AEC's (assistant emergency coordinators) Drew ve3maf, Keeling ve3xkb, and Doug va3dlj.  Most of the active members of the North Bay Amateur Radio Club are also ARES members (but it is not required that you belong to both organizations).