Public Service

Public Service is a key reason for the Amateur Radio Service


New Mexico Hams have a long tradition of providing public service. In addition to providing communications at various public events such as marathon runs, bicycle rides for charity, and mountain races both on-foot and on bicycle, the amateur radio community provides valuable communications support to the Search and Rescue community, the Red Cross, and local government disaster preparation operations. The Upper Rio FM Society linking system and repeaters are utilized in many of such public service operations requiring communications support.

Search and Rescue

Search and Rescue is an important public service function supported by volunteers throughout New Mexico and is extremly valuable due to the large geographic area and the sparse population in all but the major population centers of the state. Amateur Radio is often the only communications means available to allow Incident Commanders to communicate with field teams and support teams. The Upper Rio FM Society repeaters and the repeaters of the affiliated organizations are used on almost every Search and Rescue mission in the state.

All search and rescue incidents in New Mexico are coordinated by the New Mexico Department of Public Safety, State Police Division. One of the major functions of this State agency is to provide the support and legal authority for Search and Rescue Operations in the state.

Organizations most likely to be heard on the URFMSi system during a mission include the following:

  • The New Mexico SAR Support Team. The NMSARS team provides incident base camp communications support and other logistical operational support both in base camp and in the field. The team makes heavy use of computer mapping for operations and often uses the APRS system with its many digipeaters located throughout the state. The team is often contacted for locating ELT’s (Emergency Locating Transmitters) throughout the state. Members are expected to be able to travel to any part of the state and be completely self sufficient for a 24 hour period. This is often in adverse conditions and requires members to be able to provide communications by many different methods including the use of portable crossband repeaters. Air to Ground and Public Service band frequencies are used in addition to the many repeaters of the URFMSi system. More information on the NMSARS Team and the SAR system used in New Mexico may be obtained at their web site.
  • Bernalillo County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES).
  • Other SAR Teams. There are many other SAR teams located in Albuquerque and throughout New Mexico. Some of these teams are made up primarily of amateur radio operators and special in communications and mission support activities. Other teams specialize in various other SAR disciplines with many members of those teams being amateur radio operators. It is not uncommon to have a dog handler, horseback search member or technical rock climber to be using amateur radio communications while assisting in a SAR mission in the field.

These organizations are very heavily oriented to providing communications and are always looking for additional volunteers. Please contact any of them if you are interested in providing support to the Search and Rescue operations in New Mexico.

Radio Communications Support to the American Red Cross

The local Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) organization which is sponsored by the American Radio Relay League, Inc. (ARRL), shall provide, in so far as resources permit, an alternate radio communications service to the Mid-Rio Grande Chapter of the American Red Cross located in Albuquerque, NM . The local ARES. organization shall ensure that those members assigned to Red Cross communication functions be adequately equipped and trained to provide alternate communications support at the direction of the Chapter and in accordance with the Statement of Understanding Between the American Radio Relay League, Inc and The American National Red Cross dated July 13, 1982.

When a disaster involves the activation of local government emergency preparedness services that utilize Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), ARES. will ensure that a qualified RACES. operator is available for communications with the government controlled RACES. radio station.

An alert roster of qualified ARES. amateur radio operators is supplied to the Mid-Rio Grande Chapter of the Red Cross annually for the calendar year. The first ARES. person contacted shall be supplied with the details of the communications need and he/she will call out as many operators from available resources to satisfy the requirement.

Thanks to generous donations of radios, antennas, computers, printers and other equipments to the local Red Cross by local hams, the Red Cross ARES. Communications Room located in the Mid-Rio Grande Chapter building has enhanced communications capability including HF voice/cw and VHF/ UHF voice and packet radio. Also available is a licensed capability on the NM State emergency VHF frequency, 155.160 MHz.


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