Clatsop County Auxiliary Communications Service (AUXCOMM) provides communications services to Clatsop County Emergency Management Division and member agencies through the Auxiliary Communications Service AUXCOMM function as well as county hospitals and the Regional Chapter of the American Red Cross via the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) function. AUXCOMM is an umbrella organization that allows us to handle all the served agencies. This allows more opportunities for members to serve in a larger number of roles. It also creates a single point of contact for these agencies to receive communications support.

Auxiliary communications groups are used by many agencies to provide backup communications in the event of a failure of their primary systems. In the case of Clatsop County EMD, amateur operators are used to handle all radio traffic because they are authorized to use both amateur and government systems. These groups are known by a number of names. The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) was created by the FCC in 1952 to provide support to civil defense agencies and have special war-time capabilities and limitations still granted in FCC rules part 97.407. The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) was created by the ARRL to provide emergency communications support to non-government agencies not covered by RACES. In many cases these teams are combined to provide a broader range of services. The Military Auxiliary Communications Service (MARS) and many other communications services fall under the AUXCOMM umbrella.

More recently some jurisdictions have chosen to create their own teams, chartered under local rules to meet their local needs. These groups can be seen with names like Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS), Disaster Communications Service (DCS) or Emergency Communications Service (ECS). The Clatsop County Emergency Management Division is the sponsoring agency for AUXCOMM. Members of this combined communications team complete the Clatsop County AUXCOMM membership application process (ORS 401:362 and are then credentialed through Clatsop County EMD. When credentialed by Clatsop EMD (a recognized civil defense agency), operators are able to respond as AUXCOMM / RACES members if needed and are covered by insurance as state emergency workers when activated with a state mission number (ORS 401:368)

Traditional operations involve emergency message handling on Amateur Radio Service frequencies. These operations typically involve messages between critical locations such as hospitals, emergency services, emergency shelters, and any other locations where communication is needed. These communications are handled in any mode available, with 2 meters FM being the most prevalent.

Other tasks that AUXCOMM personnel are involved with may not involve amateur radio communications. For example, communicators may become involved in public safety or other government communications, Emergency Operations Center (EOC) staffing, and emergency equipment repair.

Whatever need arises, trained personnel are ready and prepared to help as volunteer professionals. The AUXCOMM group develops and maintains their communications ability by training throughout the year with special exercises and public service events.

If you would like to join us, contact our Emergency Coordinator, Don Hillgartner. Also, browse these pages to identify ways in which you might participate and increase your skills in emergency communications.