ARES, RACES, SKYWARN, HARN and MESN
The primary focus of St. Louis Metro ARES/RACES is ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service), but it does have connections to other groups.
The group began in 2004 as St. Louis County ARES. There was a separate group, St. Louis City ARES, but it had difficulties recruiting members due to the relatively low number of Amateur Radio operators in the City. In 2014 The Missouri Section leadership allowed the two groups to merge, forming a City/County group called St. Louis Metro ARES. It has MOUs (Memoranda Of Understanding) with the emergency management agencies of both governments.
The St. Louis County Police Department Office of Emergency Management (OEM) had maintained its own RACES team (Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service) for many years. By 2014, however, the key Amateur Radio leadership of that RACES team had all but vanished, and St. Louis Metro ARES was asked to take over. Working together, Metro ARES and the OEM wrote a new Amateur Radio Operating Manual for the County and the two groups officially merged. All Metro ARES members became de facto members of the County's RACES team. Hence, Metro ARES became St. Louis Metro ARES/RACES. Note, however, that the RACES affiiliation is only with St. Louis County.
Along with a RACES team, St. Louis County OEM maintained a group of lead Amateur Radio operators who would activate a radio net during severe weather. The primary operator had a working relationship with the local NWS (National Weather Service) Warning Coordinator Meteorologist, and together they held many Skywarn spotter classes. With the departure of both parties, the relationship changed, but County OEM still wanted the Metro ARES/RACES group to maintain severe weather nets. Our group does activate nets during severe weather and also runs Skywarn test nets on the first Thursday of each month. A separate website, www.stlskywarn.org is maintained to coordinate with all Amateur Radio spotters. Reports taken over the net are sent to both the OEM and the local office of the NWS.
It is worth noting here that the OEM only allows a small number of Amateur Radio operators into the County Emergency Operations Center and the County police precinct. These SAOs (Secure Access Operators) have gone through background checks and were issued access badges. Only these operators act as net control operators for the Skywarn nets.
HARN (St. Louis Hospital Amateur Radio Net) is not directly affiliated with any other Amateur Radio group. It is managed by the STARRS (the St. Louis Area Regional Response System), which provides various services for area hospitals. STARRS, and therefore HARN cover several counties in both Missouri and Illinois, and hence do not neatly fit the "footprint" of ARES or RACES groups.
Nevertheless, the Amateur Radio leadership of both St. Louis Metro ARES/RACES and HARN consists of the same people. This makes it easier for HARN served agencies (many local hospitals) to communicate and coordinate with ARES served agencies (St. Louis County Department of Public Health, the Veterans Administration Medical Centers and others). Some HARN operators are also members of Metro ARES/RACES, but many, especially those who report to hospitals outside of St. Louis City and County, do not. HARN runs a test net for those hospitals and served agencies that wish to participate on the second Friday of each month. There is more information about HARN on the Metro ARES website, www.stlares.org/HARN/index.html.
MESN is the Missouri Emergency Services Net. It is an as-needed statewide HF net (3.963 MHz on 75 meters and 7.263 MHz on 40 meters), which also runs a check-in net once a month (see Local Emergency Nets for day and time). Its origins, usage and management in the past are a bit of a mystery, but as of 2020 the Missouri Section Manager declared it to be under the auspices of the Missouri Section ARES, and management was assigned to the Emergency Coordinator of St. Louis Metro ARES/RACES.