ARES is an organization sponsored by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), which since 1935, has provided primary and secondary communications to government agencies and private organizations.

RACES is an organization sponsored by FEMA designed to provide disaster assistance communications during declared emergencies.

Wisconsin ARES/RACES is actually two organizations operating transparently as one with over 1350 ham radio operators who volunteer their expertise, time and resources to provide primary and supplemental communications to government agencies, private disaster response organizations and other nonprofit organizations. Other ARES/RACES organizations are present throughout the United States. In Wisconsin, each county has an ARES/RACES group, which regularly trains on the air and in formal training sessions.

To be a qualified ARES/RACES operator, you must pass two(2) National Incident Management System (NIMS) exams. They are IS-100 and IS-700. After passing the exams, you will find the Certificate of Achievement, also online. Print two copies of the certificate … one for your records, and one for the PVR files. These Certificates are required, and needed, for receipt of federal preparedness funds.


The statewide Wisconsin ARES/RACES HF net is conducted every Sunday evening at 6:00 p.m. (2300 UTC) on the HF frequency 3.97750 Mhz.

The satewide Wisconsin ARES/RACES VHF Net is conducted on the last Thursday of every month at 7:00 p.m. (1900 UTC) on the WECOMM Linked Repeater Network
These are informational nets whose purpose is to provide training for:

  • Supplemental communications support to Emergency Management, law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services during all types of emergencies and disasters.
  • Primary and supplemental communications support during disasters and communications emergencies for private disaster response organizations.
  • Severe weather spotting assistance for the National Weather Service.
  • Primary communications for private organizations during special events and activities such as marathons, parades and large outdoor events.
Some Examples of Services Provided by Richland County ARES/RACES
  • Severe weather spotting assistance for the National Weather Service. Supplemental communications support to Emergency Management, law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services during all types of emergencies and disasters.
  • Primary and supplemental communications support during disasters and communications emergencies for private disaster response organizations.
  • Primary communications for nonprofit organizations during events and activities such as marathons, parades and large outdoor events.

If you are a ham radio operator interested in public service, review this site and contact Richland County Emergency Management Director Darin Gudgeon, KC9JTA at (608)647-8187 Office or email: You may also contact PVR Emergency Coordinator (EC) Chris Kanable, KC9CMD at (608)647-4881 or email:

Get Involved

If you are not involved in ham radio and are interested in communications and public service, we want to talk with you! We are always looking for interested individuals who want to uniquely serve their communities. All it takes to get an FCC issued ham radio license is the desire to learn.

If you are in emergency management, state or federal government, law enforcement, fire service, emergency medical service, health service, or a private disaster support agency and are not engaged with your local ARES/RACES group, contact Emergency Cordinator (EC) Chris Kanable KC9CMD. He will put you in touch with your county or district emergency coordinator.

Enjoy serving your community. Learn from your experiences, generate ideas to take back to your organizations and then share those ideas with us so we can share them with others.

REMEMBER, we provide communications when no one else can!

Wisconsin ARES/RACES

You can find more Wisconsin ARES/RACES information here.

When you get to the Wisconsin ARES/RACES site, please click on “WEM ARES/RACES Station Initial Communications Plan.” Here you will find frequencies and modes that will be monitored when the ARES/RACES radio station at the Wisconsin Emergency Management EOC has been activated. Or, click here.

Go Bags

There are “Go-bags” … and then there are “Go-bags.” What you have in your go-bag is a personal thing, but there are essentials that should be “ready to go” at a moments notice. You may be activated to serve for just a single day — however, depending on the circumstances — you may be called to serve for several days. Do you have everything organized so that you can just grab what you need and go?

We will not go into a discussion of your radio gear … you are an Amateur Radio operator, so you know about your HT, the accessories you need for your radio, and the comfort and safety items you will need … so we will discuss those “other” things you will need in your go-bag.


  • ID Card(s) for any and all agencies with which you are registered. (American Red Cross, local or state ARES/RACES ID, SAR, etc.) Make sure these cards have the necessary telephone numbers.
  • Keep your cell phone handy so that you can grab it on the run.
  • Copy of your FCC Amateur Radio License. Copies of all FCC licenses (e.g.- “club” calls) you are authorized to use should be carried.
  • Personal prescription and OTC medications. Carry list of all medications you take, plus name/address of doctor(s) and pharmacist.
  • Eyeglasses (+ spare pair), sun glasses. Safety glasses or goggles.
  • Appropriate clothing (for rain, hot weather, snow), headgear, sturdy shoes/boots, kerchief or scarf. (If kerchief is ORANGE or other bright color, it can double as a signal flag.)
  • Water. One gallon per day per person,
  • Small notepad, pen(s), pencils, spiral logbook/clipboard, RADIOGRAM forms. This might include your own SKYWARN book with scripts, frequency charts or repeater lists that you may need.
  • Flashlight(s) (a “Snake Light or “Mag-lite” plus a pocket pen-lite is good).
  • A good pocket knife. A folding multi-purpose tool.
  • A whistle in the event you become “lost.” Perhaps a signal mirror would be a good thing.
  • Watch or small clock. (With an alarm is ideal).
  • Respiratory (dust) masks.
  • First-aid kit. Perhaps this should include a snake bite kit. (If you include a snake bite kit, you will probably never see a snake. On the other hand …)
  • You may need matches, tissues, moist towelettes, sun block, insect repellent, plus personal hygiene items which you may need.
  • Emergency gas/phone money (the amount is up to you … I carry mine in an empty pill bottle.)
  • You may have to hike deep into the woods, so a small compass might be a good thing.
  • Maps — especially local maps.
  • For some emergency activations you may be required to wear a hardhat. I have one with safety goggles included.
  • Last, but not least, a copy of pages from your radio operating manual in the event you need to program frequencies other than the ones stored in your radio.


  • A small tupperware container.
  • A back pack.
  • A professionally designed emergency go-bag.
  • A large brief case.
  • Whatever you use as your go-bag, keep it easily accessible. And, this is important — try not to “rob” your go-bag! If you do, what you need may not be there when it is needed.


  • If you have TWO VEHICLES, please do not store your go-bag in one car — then, drive off in the other. Been there, done that.
  • From Shawn, KC9KOP: “Looks like you covered all the important items needed for a go bag in general. Some bags can be a lot more complicated depending on the need. (such as Katrina) or any long term stay in a particular place. I think that for our storm spotters the general list you have described will be more than enough, but you never know when something major could happen and the need for more items in the bag would have been nice!”


  • If you are serious about organizing your go-bags, you may want to study these charts. Your circumstances may differ and you may want to delete/add things that you see on the charts. For instance, winter go-bags will certainly be different than those in warmer climates … heavy jackets and snow shovels in winter — sun screen and insect repellants in summer.
  • Like a serious back-packer, pack only what you can carry, yet enough to meet emergency needs. You may skimp on your personal needs, but do not skimp as much in the area of station operation.
  • As you will note, there are three go-bags: FIRST is the primary go-bag, the SECOND is the basic go-bag, and the THIRD is the extended go-bag (more than 24 hours of operation). The contents of each go-bag is up to you as an individual operator.
Primary Go-Bag
For portable station operationCarried on your person

    • RADIO (2m HT w/30W linear amp & ps OR mobile unit w/ps)
    • Earphone/headphones
    • Extra batteries
    • Speaker mike
    • BNC adaptors
    • Cig lighter adaptor
    • Notebook/pen
    • Watch/clock

Within easy reach

    • Extra HT
    • High gain HT antennas
    • Extra AA batteries
Personal comfort/survivalCarried on your person

    • Cap (head protection)
    • ID
    • Money
    • Multitool
    • Mini first aid kit
    • Vitamins
    • Medications
    • Sun glasses
    • Water container
    • Snacks
    • Address book
    • Rubber bands
    • Paper clips

Within easy reach

    • Insect repellent
    • Sun screen
    • Rain poncho
Basic Go-Bag (less than 24 hours of duty)
Fixed station operationWithin easy reach

    • Scanner or weather radio
    • Clipboard w/NTS forms etc.
    • Maps (State, county; road, topographical)
    • Markers
    • Repeater directory
    • Calculator
    • Return address labels
    • Post-Its
    • Camera

In a tool box

    • 144 MHz SWR Meter
    • Multimeter
    • Propane solder torch
    • Solder
    • Small tape measure
    • Remote antenna(s)
    • Slingshot/fishing line
    • Fuses
    • 50 Ohm Coax
    • Coax seal
    • Duct tape
    • Electrical tape
    • Misc coax connectors and adaptors
Personal comfort/survivalCarried on your person

    • Hiking boots
    • Wide-brimmed hat
    • Pocketed vest
    • Chapstick
    • Kleenex
    • Compass/whistle/matches (a combination item available in camping stores)
    • Earplugs
    • Eye protection
    • Hard candy
    • Stainless steel mirror

Within easy reach

    • Binoculars
    • Collapsible cup
    • Cord (2 50′ lengths)
    • Flashlight
    • Kerchief/towel
    • Leather gloves
    • Bags and baggies
    • Safety pins
    • Salt
    • Water treatment tablets
    • Hammock

In a tool box

    • Rope
    • Sterno tin
Extended operation (over 24 hours of duty)
Fixed station operationIn a tool box

    • Cigarette socket splitter
    • Misc hand tools

In local, secure storage

    • Antenna assortment
    • Camp shovel
    • Power station w/charge cords
    • Mini jumper cables
Personal comfort/survivalWithin easy reach

    • Food
    • Eating utensils

In a tool box

    • Butane lighter
    • Fire sticks

In local, secure storage

    • Change of clothes (with extra socks and underwear)
    • Groom kit
    • Main First Aid Kit
Pocket-size First Aid Kit
  • Assorted band-aids
  • Adhesive tape
  • Gauze pads
  • ACE bandage
  • Moleskin
  • Folding scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Needle
  • Forehead thermometer
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Anti-bacterial cream
  • Tylenol pills
  • Immodium pills
  • Benadryl pills
  • Bee sting pain relief capsule
  • Eye-contact lens rewetting drops
  • Eyeglass repair
  • Lip balm
  • Tampons (they also soak up blood from wounds)
  • Personal prescription medications

 Previous Activations

2006 Viola Tornado

Early in the morning of August 19, radio operators of the Pine Valley Repeater Amateur Radio Club were activated to go to the small community of Viola, WI, to set up an emergency communications station as all normal communications systems, even those of the Sheriff’s Department, were down, destroyed, or unavailable. For 12 hours, the operators were on duty, passing and receiving information from and to the EOC in Richland Center and the State ARES/RACES system. Our ham radios worked well.

Operating the emergency communications station were: Chris Kanable (KC9CMD), Dick Neumann (W9JR), Andrew Rinehart (KC9GPB), Mary Maclay (KC9HQW), Bob Naegele (W9MZ), Roger Nicholson (KC9HHH), and Glen Dunne (KC9GPD).

2007 Richland County Flood

The Richland County ARES/RACES Amateur Radio operators were called to duty at 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 19, to serve as communicators at the Richland County EOC to monitor the radios and telephone during heavy rainfalls and flash floods. The PVR communicators were expertly led by Bob Naegele (W9MZ) and Chris Kanable (KC9CMD).

The radio operators remained on duty, some for 24 hours/day, to help with the week-long flooding emergency that involved the following counties: La Crosse, Vernon, Grant, Crawford, and Richland. Operators were also dispatched to various county sites to monitor the rise/fall of creeks/rivers, and to determine rainfall amounts.

Several hundred messages were received and relayed from the Communications Center of the EOC to various local and county officials, and to the State ARES/RACES offices during the emergency. The Richland County Emergency Plan worked very well.

The following Richland County ARES/RACES operators are to be commended for the tremendous efforts they put forth during this time of need: Bob Naegele (W9MZ), Dick Neumann (W9JR), Chris Kanable (KC9CMD), Glen Dunne (KC9GPD), Nancy McLaughlin (KC9HHD), Richard McLaughlin (KC9JTB), Heidi McLaughlin (KC9HQK), Roger Nicholson (KC9HHH), Joe Harrell (KC9HHK), Mary Maclay (KC9HQW), Mike Kaufman (WB9SLI), Linda Kaufman (KC9HHF), Gus Slayback (WB9SKG), Walt Lesetmoe (KC9KIG), Josh Lesetmoe (KC9KOM), Laura Rockland (KC9KOO), Shawn Rockland (KC9KOP), Cole Muth (KC9GPE), Dan Brewer (KC9HHG), Ken Ramsden (KC9KOR), and Dana Wilson (KC9KOQ). The Richland County Emergency Management Coordinator, Darin Gudgeon (KC9JTA), was the official in charge of the Emergency Management team. Good job!

Do you know what to do during a flood? For more information on this subject, you can view the articles below:

2008 Richland County Flood

Once again, 9 months after the August flood of ’07, the Richland County ARES/RACES Amateur Radio operators were activated to provide storm watching duties and to operate from the Richland County EOC. Huge amounts of rain caused extensive flooding resulting in nearly 80 county roads and highways to be closed, communities inundated with water, many homes damaged, and people evacuated to shelters in Viola and Richland Center.

Hard hit was the community of Viola which was isolated due to flood waters inundating that community. Many homes in Viola were damaged because of water filled basements. Radio operators were also sent to Avoca to provide communications and assistance. Avoca was also severely flooded with roads into and out of Avoca nearly impassable. As in Viola, many homes and businesses in Avoca had basements flooded requiring pumping of the water. Nearby Lone Rock was another community where Richland County was called upon to assist with issues in that community.

ARES/RACES radio operators were on duty for 24-hour periods for several days, receiving and relaying messages to pertinent members of the Incident Command unit. The Pine Valley Repeater ham radio operators served a very necessary and important function during the flooding incident.

To make matters worse, more rain is expected to fall resulting is more flooding. These floods were worse than that of ’07. WILL IT EVER STOP?

AREA/RACES radio operators put forth another super effort to make sure the emergency ran smoothly. They are: Bob Naegele (W9MZ), Dick Neumann (W9JR), Chris Kanable (KC9CMD), Santana Marroquin (KC9NSK), Roger Nicholson (KC9HHH), Joe Harrell (KC9HHK), Mike Kaufman (WB9SLI), Linda Kaufman (KC9HHF), Gus Slayback (WB9SKG), Walt Lesetmoe (KC9KIG), Josh Lesetmoe (KC9KOM), Laura Rockland (KC9KOO), Shawn Rockland (KC9KOP), Stacey Martynuik (KC9IHF), Dan Brewer (KC9HHG), Brice McCauley (KC9JOJ) and Charles Jausch (KG6DMY). Thanks for a job well done. Also to be commended are Incident Commander Darin Gudgeon (KC9JTA), his able assistant Jeanne Rice (KC9JOI) of the Richland County Emergency Management Office, and Dana Wilson (KC9KOQ) Grant County Skywarn Coordinator.