Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), authorized by Part 97.407 of the FCC Rules and Regulations, is a volunteer organization of licensed amateur radio operators who donate time, skills, and use of personal equipment for public service. A communications system is an integral component of an emergency operation. Amateur radio plays a vital role in emergency communications during disasters. It is, therefore, essential for an amateur radio communications system to exist that can support and back up the needs of disaster services. Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service is organized under FEMA and operates according to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules. In Kent County RACES is part of the Kent County Sheriff’s Department Office of Emergency Management. RACES members may provide communications support using amateur radio, cellular and regular phones, computers or other equipment. RACES supports all government services and agencies as requested, but remains, at all times, under the Sheriff’s Department Office of Emergency Management.

Support Communications

As part of general exercises and events, Kent County Emergency Services Team provides auxiliary communications between Emergency Management, first responders, amateur radio operators, and operational units throughout the field. KCEST also assists with public events such as the Amway Riverbank Run, the Mud Run, and other similar events to provide communication across the entire event and to dispatch emergency personnel in the case of a medical event.


  • Amateur and Public Service VHF/UHF radios
  • Mobile units in trucks/vans
  • Personal vehicles equipped for on-the-go deployment

Emergency Operations Communication Center (EOCC)

The members of this unit are responsible for operating and maintaining the EOCC. The EOCC is located near the Dispatch center at the Kent County Sheriff’s Department. The purpose of the EOCC is to provide alternate communications circuits during times of an emergency. 


  • Amateur and Public Service VHF/UHF radios
  • Digital 800 MHz radio
  • D-Star Digital VHF/UHF

Hospital Communications

Kent County HosCom is the amateur radio link between emergency services in Kent County Michigan established by RACES. The hospitals, ambulance services and Michigan Community Blood Center have this system should telephone failure occur. The system is comprised of Icom ID-800 digital radios and roof top antennas to form a stand alone simplex net of communications that is not dependent on any repeating towers. Every location has back up auxiliary power making it ideal for disaster communications.

RACES members cross train from the different hospitals to facilitate readiness in time of need. Currently efforts are being made to identify amateur radio operators in each facility that are available in time of disaster to assist in manning operating positions.

If you are a civic minded amateur radio operator and can help us to help others in time of great need please consider joining RACES.