Public service communication has been a traditional responsibility of the Amateur Radio Service since 1913. In todays Amateur Radio, disaster work is a highly organized and worthwhile part of day-to-day operation, implemented principally through ARES and the National Traffic System (NTS), both sponsored by ARRL.
The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization, is eligible for membership in the ARES. The only qualification, other than possession of an Amateur Radio license, is a sincere desire to serve. Because ARES is an amateur service, only amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership.