WCACS Purpose and Scope

Whatcom County Auxiliary Communications Service

Purpose and Scope

The Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) is a volunteer group of amateur radio operators chartered by the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO). The ACS provides communications support for the WCSO and for the Whatcom Unified Emergency Coordination Center (WUECC) for critical incidents.

This Communications Plan defines the scope and practices to be utilized by the WCSO ACS while operating base, portable, mobile and related equipment associated with their activation by the Division of Emergency Management (DEM) and Whatcom Unified Emergency Management (WUEM). The plan provides, in Part I, an overview of the organization and operation of radio communications support during an incident/activation. In Part II specific operational procedures, basic equipment parameters, terminology and reference documentation are described. Part II serves as a basic operations manual for the ACS staff. In addition, there is more detailed information available in equipment manuals and relevant computer files located in the WUECC. Further, the WCSO Communications Van has a dedicated manual that addresses equipment configuration and operation in greater detail. This manual is not part of the WCSO ACS Communications Plan

Effective use of communications resources, and other DEM/WUEM technical resources, will contribute to responding to, and mitigating the impact of, any incident. The goals of the Communications Plan are to facilitate the use of practices and procedures that enhance situational awareness, and promote safety and responsive operations, assure a trained staff and improve communications effectiveness.

Also, the description of WECG in the WCSO ACS Operations Plan

Whatcom Emergency Communications Group (WECG)

WECG is a private nonprofit group that provides communications services as part of the Whatcom County Search and Rescue Council. WECG can be activated by WUEM under a mission number in support of WCSO ACS. WECG is also ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) under the auspices of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). In that capacity it provides emergency communication support to PeaceHealth St. Joseph’s Medical Center.

This group can self-activate without WUEM authorization and work on events that have not been assigned a Washington State DEM mission number. In these situations, volunteers have no Washington State insurance

In addition, the role of WCSO ACS is spelled out in the county Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan:


✓ Serve as communications representative in the Whatcom Unified Emergency Operations Center.

✓ Maintain liaison with Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management and, if needed, the What-Comm Communications Center.

✓ Ensure operational readiness of Whatcom Unified Emergency Operations Center communications equipment.

✓ Provide training for Whatcom ARES/RACES volunteers in emergency radio communication operation and procedures.

✓ Ensure CEMNET and other messages are relayed to Whatcom Unified Emergency Operations Center and the What-Comm Communications Center.

✓ Upon request, provide alternate communications for American Red Cross established mass care facilities, hospitals, schools, and other locations during emergencies or disasters.

✓ Advise the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management of communications capabilities and limitations and request additional communication resources as needed.

Scroll to Top