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Auxiliary Communications Systems Overview:

Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency’s (PEMA) Auxiliary Communications Services (ACS) is a volunteer-based emergency communications reserve program that has both operational and educational components. ACS offers exciting ongoing and technically diverse training to its members. The ACS program was created by PEMA to supplement its emergency communications with unpaid staff. Skilled and dedicated people, licensed and unlicensed, can be recruited to serve in one or more of four categories:  administrative, management, technical, and operations.

In Pennsylvania, ACS was expanded from the original RACES program, incorporating civilians who were not amateur radio operators, in emergency communications response

The ACS provides tactical, logistical and administrative support and communications for all government communications systems. This includes operations on equipment and frequencies of ANY authorized equipment or frequencies in support of ANY need by government that might be in any way connected with an eventual emergency.

This includes: cellular, computer, email, facsimile, Internet, interpersonal, microwave, radio (police, fire, amateur, other), satellite, telephone, television, video conference, in-office support of personnel, operators of equipment and systems. 

ACS makes possible the effective management and utilization of personnel from Amateur Radio, Civil Air Patrol, the Military Affiliate Radio System, Special Emergency Radio Service, REACT and others, in support of civil defense and disaster response and recovery. Activities include much more than operations on selected frequencies of a single service.

ACS resources are normally mobilized at the same time as are other public safety resources responding and reacting to an incident; and not later, when it may be too late to effectively and efficiently, or even possible, to do so. 

Participants in an ACS are expected to be more than just operators of radios in a call me if you need me situation or an it may never happen here scenario. They are skilled professionals who work as unpaid staff with emergency management agency to enhance its response and recovery in any possible emergency. 


This includes preparation of plans, systems and personnel for response to any kind of situation or incident.

PEMA ACS Mission Statement:   The mission of the PEMA ACS is to be a redundant communications resource, ready to enhance or assume emergency communications duties for governmental agencies (county, regional, state and federal) during times of actual or potential disaster, or when normal communications are either unavailable or are unable to adequately transfer the traffic as needed. 


Basic Requirements:

  • ACS Volunteers must have a willingness to serve and be at least 18 years of age.

  • ACS Volunteers are expected to complete the team’s required training program.

  • During the first year of service, ACS Volunteers must have completed FEMA’s online Incident Command System courses ICS 100, ICS 200, IS 700, and IS 800.

  • During the first year of service, ACS Volunteers must obtain an Amateur Radio Operators license (test training is facilitated).

  • Successfully pass a background check.

  • Sign a Volunteer Service Agreement and Code of Ethics

  • Download (here), complete, sign and submit the PEMA ACS Application

  • Register and complete inline application at ServPA


Skills Individuals in the following Specialties Include:

  • All Hazard Communications

  • Amateur Radio License

  • Military Auxiliary Radio System

  • Stenographers (transcribe voice communications)

  • Computer networking specialists

  • Licensed GMRS and/or Amateur Radio communications specialists

  • Other Emerging Technologies


PEMA ACS is a volunteer organization. In most cases, team members easily manage work, life, and PEMA ACS commitments. However, emergencies and disasters PEMA ACS members may be called upon to operate at night, on weekends, during normal business hours, and on holidays. Before applying to PEMA ACS, please consider your availability and willingness to serve.

For questions, concerns, or assistance with the application process please email



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