RACES stations are only activated by the state, county or local emergency management authority to operate on their behalf. Only amateur radio stations who have previously registered with state and local governments to provide emergency radio communications for them in times of emergency can be activated. Other amateur radio operations might be suspended and operations under the RACES rules might be restricted to certain frequencies within the amateur radio bands.
If amateur radio operators, registered as RACES stations, regularly conduct on air training but not at the request or direction of the emergency management official, then those stations are operating in the amateur radio service and not RACES.
In addition to wartime communications, operations under the RACES rules can provide or supplement communications during emergencies where normal communication systems have sustained damage. It may be used in a wide variety of situations, including natural disasters, technological disasters, nuclear accidents, nuclear attack, terrorist incidents and bomb threats.