County of Orange (California)
Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service

Orange County Sheriff's Department
Communications & Technology Division

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County of Orange RACES, an auxiliary communications unit of the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD), is administered by OCSD's Communications & Technology Division. Members are registered as Disaster Service Workers with OCSD's Emergency Management Division. They are trained to provide voice, video, and data communications during emergencies, using their own equipment on County VHF and UHF repeaters and simplex frequencies. When activated, OCRACES provides emergency communications support, handles messages between incidents and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), or between public-safety agencies and critical locations, and reports conditions from the field to the EOC or Command Post.

Next OCRACES Meeting: Monday, January 7, 2019

The next County of Orange RACES meeting will be on Monday, January 7th, at 7:30 PM, at 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, in Orange. Alan Hill, W6ARH, from Fountain Valley RACES, will be our guest speaker, and the topic will be how maker technologies apply to ham radio.

OCRACES Braves the Heat at Ham Jam

It was very toasty (105 degrees) at HRO Ham Jam on Saturday, July 7, 2018. Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, brought a nice canopy to provide shade to the other OCRACES members who participated and promoted RACES to many visitors who dropped by our booth. Ken Bourne, W6HK, set up a portable 40-meter station and worked Newport Beach, Laguna Woods, and Ventura with 20 watts into a pair of MFJ Hamsticks up 9½ feet. Scott Byington, KC6MMF, set up a 20-meter station with an Elecraft KX3 and a beam, and Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ, set up a 6-meter station. Also participating were Bob McFadden, KK6CUS, and Martin La Rocque, N6NTH. In spite of the heat, many visitors dropped by the booth and learned about OCRACES.

County and City RACES Members at OCARC Field Day

Participation was very good at the Orange County Amateur Radio Club 2018 Field Day at the Walter Knott Education Center near Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park. Setup began on Friday, June 22nd, and operations occurred on Saturday, June 23rd, beginning at 1100 hours, and lasted until 1100 hours Sunday, June 24th. Stations in operation included 10 m/40 m SSB (Chip Margelli, K7JA, band captain), 10 m/40 m CW (Kenan Reilly, KR6J, band captain), 15 m/80 m SSB and CW (Tim Goeppinger, N6GP, band captain), 20 m SSB (Ron Mudry, W6WG, band captain), 20 m CW (Jim Schultz, AF6N, band captain), VHF (Robbie Robinson, KB6CJZ, band captain), Satellite and Digital (Greg Bohning, W6ATB, band captain), and GOTA (Tim Millard, N6TMT, band captain).

Attending OCARC Field Day from OCRACES were Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, Radio Officer Scott Byington, KC6MMF, and Martin La Rocque, N6NTH. From Buena Park RACES were Chief Radio Officer Bill Lovelace, K6MET, Alternate Radio Officer Jason Ho, KJ6VSV, and Grahame Emerson, AD6GE. They brought the BPRACES well-equipped Chevy Suburban to Field Day, and met with Buena Park Mayor Pro Tem Art Brown.

Many of the OCARC members at Field Day are also members of the City of Orange Amateur Radio (COAR), which is the city’s RACES Unit.

RACES and MOU Units Participate in October 7, 2017, ACS Drill

Ken Tucker, WF6F (left photo), sends and receives Winlink messages while Tom Wright, KJ6SPE, handles incoming voice messages from City RACES and MOU units during the October 7, 2017, City/County RACES & MOU ACS Exercise.

Members of County and City RACES units as well as the American Red Cross and the Hospital Disaster Support Communications System (HDSCS) enthusiastically participated in the City/County RACES & MOU ACS Exercise on Saturday, October 7, 2017. The exercise began at 0900 hours and concluded at 1100 hours. The scenario for this exercise was high heat for almost a week and a countywide power outage. Southern California Edison projected in this simulation that it would take several more days to restore power fully in Orange County. This caused problems for hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted-living facilities, particularly for those without generators. With traffic lights out, intersections were gridlocked. County and City RACES units were busy with traffic related to these problems, and so were Red Cross and especially HDSCS, with members simulating being at 22 hospitals and the Health EOC.

In the Orange County EOC RACES Room, outgoing messages were handled at Position 1 by RACES Sergeant Tom Tracey, KC6FIC, and Walter Kroy, KC6HAM, and at Position 4 by RACES Sergeant Ernest Fierheller, KG6LXT. They transmitted 18 original messages and 11 replies to the 32 incoming messages that were received at Position 5 by Tom Wright, KJ6SPE, on the 146.895 MHz repeater, and at Position 6 by Roger Berchtold, WB6HMW, on the 448.320 MHz repeater. Winlink messages were handled at Position 3 by Ken Tucker, WF6F. He transmitted 12 messages that were delivered and 11 messages that were undelivered. Most of those messages had an ICS 205 Communications Plan attachment, which was to be filled out and returned to OCRACES. He received 16 messages. Hospital Group operations were handled at Position 2 by Bob Houghton, AD6QF. HDSCS handled approximately 35 messages on behalf of the hospitals.

Besides OCRACES, 17 City RACES units plus Cal OES, American Red Cross, and HDSCS participated in the exercise. Operating on Winlink were OCRACES, 14 City RACES units, Cal OES, and American Red Cross.

Two OCRACES field units were in operation. Randy Benicky, N6PRL, and Matt Luczko, KM6CAO, were assigned to be a field unit in south Orange County, on Talavera Drive, off Pacific Island Drive, in Laguna Niguel (a high place that looks north). Benicky was net control on the 7250-kHz net and Luczko tested the Zello smartphone app with participating City RACES units. RACES Sergeant Bob McFadden, KK6CUS, and Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ, operated Field Unit 2 at Crystal Cove, Coastal Peak Park, in Newport Beach. McFadden was successful with Winlink and DMR check-ins. On 40 meters, they were successful in contacting City RACES units and relaying for Benicky at HF net control at Field Unit 1. Gordon West, WB6NOA, was at his Costa Mesa RACES (MESAC) field unit and helped with 40-meter relays. On HF were OCRACES, Cal OES (Los Alamitos REOC and Sacramento), and eight City RACES units (Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, Seal Beach, and Westminster). On Zello, Luczko checked in 12 RACES members from OCRACES and the City RACES units in Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, and Westminster. These check-ins were on the Zello OC EmComm channel.

The DMR net was run by Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ, with only three check-ins—W6HK and KK6CUS from OCRACES and W6ONT from Cypress RACES.

RACES and MOU Units Participate in May 6, 2017, ACS Exercise

Roger Berchtold (left photo) receives incoming messages while RACES Sgt. Tom Tracey, KC6FIC, operates the 40-meter station during the May 6, 2017, City/County RACES & MOU ACS Exercise.

Civil disorder was the scenario for the City/County RACES & MOU ACS Exercise on Saturday, May 6, 2017. OCRACES members and applicants arrived at the Orange County EOC RACES Room before 0830 hours to get prepared for the drill, which occurred from 0900 to 1100 hours. They were welcomed by OCRACES RACES Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, who had prepared all original messages to be sent during the general voice and Winlink segments of the drill. OCSD Emergency Communications Manager Lee Kaser, KK6VIV, arrived soon after the drill began, and expressed his appreciation for the excellent turnout of members at the EOC as well as at field locations. Simplex communications were handled primarily between the City RACES units, to test coverage. About 40 voice messages were received on OCRACES 2-meter and 70-centimeter repeaters, and 26 voice messages were sent via the City RACES primary repeater and simplex frequencies. A few messages were sent and received at the 40-meter SSB station. The Winlink station sent 20 messages and received 22.

OCRACES members at the EOC, in addition to Capt. Bourne, included Roger Berchtold, WB6HMW, Sgt. Jack Barth, AB6VC, Martin La Rocque, N6NTH, Walter Kroy, KC6HAM, Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, Harvey Packard, KM6BV, Sgt. Tom Tracey, KC6FIC, and Ken Tucker, WF6F. OCRACES applicants included Brian Ahn, KM6CXL, and Nikko Lawson, KM6ATE, who operated together at the Winlink station. This was their first experience with Winlink, and they immediately became experts! Also at the EOC RACES Room, representing the Hospital Disaster Support Communications System (HDSCS), was Justin Ennen, AI6CI.

Two OCRACES teams were in the field during the exercise, including Randy Benicky, N6PRL, and Matt Luczko, KM6CAO, mobile in South County, and Bob McFadden, KK6CUS, and Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ, at a portable location in Orange. Both teams were on 2 meters and 70 centimeters, as well as on 40 meters SSB.

Participating City RACES units included Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Seal Beach, and Westminster. Also participating were American Red Cross, HDSCS, and Cal OES.

The civil-disorder scenario generated many interesting messages. For example, a message to Newport Beach PD warned of five submarine snorkels near the entrance of Newport Harbor. A Winlink message indicated a submarine was headed toward a Hornblower cruise ship in the harbor. A reply said the submarine grounded in shallow waters. Costa Mesa PD was warned to prepare for a terrorist attack from a fleet of eight semi-trailer trucks approaching South Coast Plaza at high speed. Buena Park PD was advised of 15 drones near Knott’s Berry Farm. Anaheim Fire was notified of gangs preparing to board a train to rob passengers. A message to St. Jude Medical Center via HDSCS advised of ambulances approaching the hospital that were filled with terrorists and chemical weapons. St. Jude responded that they were being put on lockdown.

OCRACES Activates for Winter Storm on January 20, 2017

Tom Riley, K6TPR, RACES Sgt. Jack Barth, AB6VC, and Fran Needham, KJ6UJS (left to right), in EOC RACES Room during January 21, 2017, Winter Storm activation.

On Saturday, January 20, 2017, OCSD Emergency Communications Manager Lee Kaser, KK6VIV, informed OCRACES Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, that OCSD Emergency Management Division was going to activate the Orange County EOC at a low level the next morning (Sunday, January 21st) at 1000 hours, due to the pending major winter storm with expected flooding, debris flows, mudslides, downed trees, road closures, power outages, property damage, and evacuations. Anticipated continuous rainfall was expected to exceed 3-5 inches within a 24-hour period. OCSD/EMD Director Donna Boston asked that the EOC RACES Room be staffed beginning at 1000 hours on Sunday. After receiving Lee’s information, Ken sent an e-mail to all members, requesting availability. Based on the response, Ken assigned Tom Riley, K6TPR, to the first shift. The EOC was indeed activated at 1000 hours on Sunday and the Public Information Hotline was staffed. Tom arrived at the EOC RACES Room at 0930 hours and worked for more than three hours. After church, Ken arrived about noon and stayed about six hours, coordinating with the EOC Command Center and keeping tabs on shifts. OCSD/EMD indicated that OCRACES could stand down at 2200 hours, but might need staffing the next morning. At 1436 hours, the National Weather Service in San Diego issued a Flash Flood Warning for Orange County. Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, arrived at about 1420 hours on Sunday and stayed for several hours. Fran greeted Sgt. Jack Barth, AB6VC, who arrived at about 1730 hours. OCSD EMD released Fran and Jack at about 2100 hours, and asked Fran to return at 0900 hours on Monday. Fran arrived before 0900 hours on Monday, and expected to work until 1300 hours, at which time he would be relieved by Ken Tucker, WF6F. Fran was soon informed that the EOC was deactivating at 0930 hours, at which time OCRACES deactivated, and Ken Tucker did not need to report for scheduled duty.

Several cities had also activated their EOCs, and some city RACES units were activated. Some roadways were flooded and power outages and downed trees were also reported throughout the County. OCRACES repeaters were monitored for field reports throughout the activation. Members who are not deployed to the EOC during a weather activation are encouraged to report their observations of heavy weather conditions and damage to the EOC via the repeater.

OCRACES Participates in November 15, 2016, Radio Rodeo

County of Orange RACES participated in Radio Rodeo on Tuesday, November 15, 2016, at the Huntington City Beach parking lot in Huntington Beach. The event was sponsored by the California Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee (CalSIEC) Southern Planning Area (SPA). This interoperability training exercise was hosted in several counties simultaneously, with each providing a local site for participants. Participating agencies brought their communications vehicle to the Radio Rodeo site, set it up, and participated in structured radio testing of all interoperability channels over all public-safety frequency bands, as well as on RACES frequencies in the 2-meter and 70-centimeter bands. This was an opportunity for agency personnel to test the radio equipment and ensure proper programming and functionality of the radios.

Leading the Radio Rodeo effort were OCSD/Communications Program Support Manager Delia Kraft, KR6AFT, and Emergency Communications Manager Lee Kaser, KK6VIV. Assisting was “Mr. Radio Rodeo” himself, Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ, who was the Division’s Director before the current Director Dave Fontneau.

Participating agencies included Anaheim RACES, California Department of Transportation, Costa Mesa Police Department and Costa Mesa RACES (MESAC), Garden Grove Police Department, Huntington Beach Marine Safety Division, Huntington Beach Police Department, Huntington Beach RACES, Laguna Beach Police Department and Laguna Beach RACES (LBECT), Irvine RACES (IDEC), Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles County Disaster Communications Service (LACDCS), Mission Viejo RACES, Orange County Emergency Medical Services, Orange County Fire Authority (two MCPs), Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCRACES, Samantha II Mobile Communications Center, Field Support Trailer, OASIS Trailer, and Duke), Orange Police Department and Orange RACES (COAR), Santa Ana School Police Department, and West Cities Police Communications Center (West-Comm), which serves Cypress, Los Alamitos, and Seal Beach.

OCRACES did not have its van at Radio Rodeo, since it is now out of service and decommissioned. However, OCRACES was net control for the RACES component from a table outside the Field Support Trailer, set up by Kenan Reilly, KR6J, and Brad Russo, KB6GPM. Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, ran the net, and Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, observed. Randy Benicky, N6PRL, operated from Samantha II. On-site RACES testing included not only Samantha II but also Anaheim RACES (AF6XY), MESAC (KJ6PFW), IDEC (N6IPD), LBECT (K6WHC), COAR (W6OPD), Mission Viejo RACES (KE6BXT), and LACDCS (K6CPT).

OCRACES net control also conducted RACES testing with Riverside County RACES and San Diego County RACES on the Cactus Intertie system, Also checking in on Cactus were Yuma County (Arizona) RACES (NØRHZ) and Colorado State RACES (WA4HND). Contact was also made with Riverside County RACES on two OCRACES UHF repeaters and on the Riverside County RACES UHF repeater. Don Hill, KE6BXT, and Joe Ayers, AE6XE, from Mission Viejo RACES, set up a mesh network and communicated with Riverside County RACES via a node on Pleasants Peak.

RACES Wants You!

Experience the most exciting and rewarding part of amateur radio. Being a RACES member gives you the opportunity to sharpen your operating skills and technical knowledge while volunteering your services in public-safety communications. Get involved in emergency communications now. Click the Contact OCRACES link for more information.

Events Calendar

December 15: 1000 hours
OCRACES 60-Meter ACS Net
5346.5 kHz USB (dial frequency)

December 17: 1900 hours
2 m: Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ
Pager: Jack Barth, AB6VC

December 17: 1920 hours
Cooperative T-Hunt

December 22: 1000 hours
OCRACES 60-meter ACS Net
5346.5 kHz USB (dial frequency)

December 24
Christmas Eve, no nets

December 25
Merry Christmas!

December 29: 1000 hours
OCRACES 60-meter ACS Net
5346.5 kHz USB (dial frequency)

December 31
New Year's Eve, no net

January 1
Happy New Year!

January 5: 1000 hours
OCRACES 60-meter ACS Net
5346.5 kHz USB (dial frequency)

January 7: 1900 hours
2 m: Ken Tucker, WF6F
Pager: Ken Bourne, W6HK

January 7: 1930 hours
840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange

January 12
Citizen Corps Exercise
Saddleback College

January 14: 1900 hours
2 m: Tom Wright, KJ6SPE
Pager: Scott Byington, KC6MMF

January 19: 1000 hours
OCRACES 60-meter ACS Net
5346.5 kHz USB (dial frequency)

January 21: 1900 hours
2 m: Jack Barth, AB6VC
Pager: Ernest Fierheller, KG6LXT

January 21: 1920 hours
Cooperative T-Hunt

January 26: 1000 hours
OCRACES 60-meter ACS Net
5346.5 kHz USB (dial frequency)

January 28: 1900 hours
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m/10 m: Randy Benicky, N6PRL
Pager: Bob McFadden, KK6CUS