Auxiliary Communication Service (ACS)

The Auxiliary Communication Service (ACS) role supports Pinellas County’s Department of Emergency Management. We provide, supplement, or augment Government communications during emergencies where normal communication systems have sustained damaged, are being over taxed or over-burdened, or backup radio operators are required. In our ACS role we are, in essence, an integrated aspect of the sponsoring agency staff, albeit unpaid.

We offer a variety of professional unpaid (volunteer) skills, including administrative, technical and operational. Those skills are used to provide emergency tactical, administrative and logistical communications. We provide those communications:

  • Within the County (between local governments, County government, governmental agencies within the County, and, if opened, emergency shelters)
  • Between the County and the State (including its agencies).
  • Between the County and neighboring Counties.

Specific mission assignments include:

  • On-going ACS bulletins
  • Assistance to counties and cities in developing ACS units in their jurisdictions
  • Coordination with other State agency ACS units once they are formed
  • Support of the State Emergency Operations Center

We proudly support the Pinellas County Department of Emergency Management, in particular:

  • Cathie Perkins, Director Emergency Management
  • Joe Borries, Emergency Management – Operations Manager

The agreement between Pinellas County Emergency Management and PCACS reads:

Establish an emergency communications unit, to be known as the Auxiliary Communications Service, primarily supported by unpaid (volunteer) staff. It shall be an in-agency unit, supported by and part of the agency and directly responsible to this agency under the direction of the agency communications coordinator, who shall be management oriented, rather than technically. Its personnel are unpaid employees of the agency registered as Disaster Service Workers in the Communications Class.

The purpose of the ACS Unit, is to:

  1. Support any and all government public service communications systems in event of failure, overload or other problems that might jeopardize their usefulness and purpose. This shall include but not be limited to the following systems and departments: 9-1-1, fire, sheriff/police, public works, transportation, aviation.
  2. Provide access to FCC Amateur Radio Service frequencies during times of emergencies.
  3. Maintain communications equipment in an on-going state of readiness and conduct weekly communications tests at the EOC.
  4. Set up and staff at government locations as specified in the current operations plan.
  5. Weather watch during unusual weather such as tornadoes, hurricanes or heavy rains.
  6. Provide those with word processing and computer skills to support paid staff in times of unusual need, such as during and following and emergency.
  7. Perform crowd surveillance by the use of ATV (Amateur Television) at the scene of an emergency or large special event.
  8. Activate a minimum level of augmentation whenever paid staff is alerted to a potential or existing emergency; minimum level being at least one unpaid staff (volunteer) on duty at the agency facility.
  9. Provide operators for all necessary positions to sustain operations as long as the EOC is activated.
  10. Handle message, information, command and liaison ‘traffic’ as is required for any communications needed by this government jurisdiction in an emergency or threat of an emergency.
  11. Conduct such training and familiarization events as shall accomplish all of the above.
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