Public Service

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Phil Temples, K9HI
125 Coolidge Ave. #803
Watertown, MA 02472


Amateur radio operator stationed along the Boston Athletic Association course.
A radio amateur stationed along the Boston Athletic Association course.

The ARRL describes Public Service as “Amateur Radio operators [volunteering to] help their communities in good times and bad, through community events, disaster response, and various programs.”

Participation in SKYWARN™ and the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®) is public service. Sending and receiving radiogram traffic via the National Traffic System on behalf of third-parties is public service. Providing communications at a local walkathon is also public service. Any act that involves rendering service to the community using our communications talents and infrastructure can be considered public service.

Publicity resulting from our public service activities is very important and shouldn’t be overlooked. That’s why you should always notify your local Public Information Officer or section Public Information Coordinator before you or your group conducts a public service operation.

Served Agencies

Many national and state organizations have entered into Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the ARRL and are served by Amateur Radio:

  • American Red Cross
  • Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO-International)
  • Boy Scouts of America
  • Citizen Corps (Department of Homeland Security)
  • Civil Air Patrol (CAP)
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
  • Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) (see RACES)
  • National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD)
  • Massachusetts VOAD
  • REACT International Inc. (REACT)
  • Salvation Army (SATERN)
  • National Weather Service (see SKYWARN)
  • Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE)
  • United States Power Squadrons

Public Service Opportunities in Eastern Massachusetts

At the local level, a number of race and walkathon events occur in the Eastern Massachusetts section throughout the year. They offer amateurs the opportunity to perfect and hone their communications skills.

Perhaps the largest and best known of these events is the BAA Marathon. The “Boston Marathon” recruits nearly three hundred amateurs from across New England to staff start/finish lines, as well as checkpoints along the route. The amateur effort is coordinated by the Boston Marathon Communications Committee.

Other annual public service events in the section include:

  • BAA 5K (Boston)
  • Baystate Marathon & Half Marathon (Lowell)
  • Finish at the 50 (Foxboro)
  • Groton Road Race (Groton)
  • Yukan Run (Gloucester, Hamilton, Rockport, Newbury)
  • Streamline – Twin Lights Half Marathon (Gloucester)
  • Rocky Neck AA 5K (Gloucester)
  • YMCA Father’s Day 5K & 10K (Rockport)
  • Head of the Charles Regatta (Cambridge)

Public Service Honor Roll

Each month in QST‘s Field Organization Reports column, the Public Service Honor Roll (PSHR) recognizes the efforts of Amateur Radio operators who are active in many aspects of public service. This includes net operations, traffic handling, emergency operations and public service communication support. There are chances that you’re already involved with some aspect of Amateur Radio that would apply to the Public Service Honor Roll (PSHR).

Take a look at these categories and descriptions to see where your Amateur Radio activities fit in. At the end of each calendar month, just add up your qualifying points. If it reaches the 70-point level (or more), you’ve qualified for the Public Service Honor Roll! Report the good news with your call sign and monthly PSHR point total to your ARRL Section Manager or Section Traffic Manager.  The ARRL section leaders, in turn, would forward the report onto ARRL Headquarters so that Headquarters staff may prepare these for listing in the Field Organization Reports segment of QST‘.  [via]

For additional details, see

See Also

Public Service Field Services Forms

Public Service Events (North Shore RA)

Public Service Basic Skills