Amateur Radio Emergency Service®
   Champaign County, IL

    "When all normal means of communication fail."

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Thanks for your interest in ARES of Champaign County!

Public service/emergency communication is one of the foundations of amateur radio, and can be both fun and fulfilling. ARES is part of the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) field organization.  It is composed of licensed amateur radio operators who have registered their equipment and capabilities to volunteer for public service and emergency communications.  You do not need to be a member of the ARRL to be a member of ARES.

ARES provides communications support to what are called “served agencies”. These are typically agencies with which ARES has an established memorandum of understanding. In Champaign County, our served agencies are the Central Illinois Chapter of the American Red Cross-Champaign and the Champaign County Emergency Management Agency (CCEMA). The National Weather Service is indirectly one of our served agencies, as many ARES members are trained storm spotters and work in conjunction with CCEMA during severe weather situations. We also provide communications for public service events, such as walk-a-thons, to any governmental or non-profit group with such a need.  In times of emergency ARES members set up and operate base stations at shelters, command posts, emergency operations centers, agency headquarters, hospitals, and the like providing communications among the various agencies and their officials out in the field.


Training has always been an important component of ARES membership. The training for our members is designed to familiarize them with the needs of our served agencies, improve skills as radio communicators, and help promote and maintain a “team” concept among members. In the post 9/11 era, training is even more critical. Emergency managers are unwilling to use untrained volunteers. We offer our members training in basic emergency communications, the incident command structure, severe storm spotting, training from the Red Cross, and other topics and areas as necessary. In the past our members have received training in such things as ground search and rescue, hazardous materials awareness, and earthquake awareness.


Please read the “Expectations” section below. Our purpose is not to just add names to a membership list – we are looking for people who are interested in public service and emergency communications and will be active members. Whether your ham radio interests are in HF, digital, or VHF/UHF communications, ARES is a great way to use your skills and expertise, or to gain additional experience.

Complete the ARES Registration form, and return it to the Emergency Coordinator (contact information below). You will also need to provide a “head and shoulders” photo (digital or regular) for your I.D. card. You will then be provided with an ID card, vehicle placards identifying you as an ARES operator, a copy of the Emergency Operations Plan, and a membership list.  You will also be added to the ARES email list and receive a monthly “newsletter” with information about ARES in Champaign County. All ARES members are also encouraged to become members of RACES.

ARES of Champaign County also assesses dues, when necessary, to help support the operations of the group. These are decided on and collected at the beginning of the calendar year. Newly enrolled members are not required to pay dues for the calendar year in which they register.


As a registered member of ARES, you are expected to:

  • Have or obtain the necessary equipment to enable you to effectively participate as an emergency communicator (minimally a dual-band H-T or mobile radio).
  • Participate in any required or necessary training, refresher training, and drills
  • Attend as many monthly meetings as possible (first Wednesday of the month).  These are generally when training sessions are offered.
  • Participate in the weekly ARES radio net when possible
  • Participate in public service events when able. Since true emergencies rarely occur, these events provide good opportunities for training in an operational situation.

Complete the registration form and return it to Steve Hilberg N9XDC, Emergency Coordinator.

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