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: April 6th at "Eckhoff"

The next OCRACES Meeting is on Monday, April 6, 2015, at 7:30 PM, at 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, in Orange. Our featured speaker will be OCSD Communications & Technology Division Telecommunications Engineer III Brad Russo, KB6GPM, with a fascinating presentation on Ethernet cables. Brad will also train us on how to install connectors on Ethernet cables, including hands-on practice.

Next Cooperative T-Hunt: April 13th

The next Cooperative T-Hunt is on Monday, April 13, 2015, immediately following the 7:00 PM OCRACES ACS net. The fox will transmit on the input of the OCRACES 2-meter repeater, and will hide on paved, publicly accessible property in a city or sector of Orange County to be announced prior to the hunt. No fees will be required to drive directly to the fox. Hunters will compare bearings on another frequency, and are encouraged to beacon their locations via APRS. This is an exercise in quickly locating interference.

OCRACES Activates for December Storms

December 2014 was a wet month—welcomed in drought-ridden California, but of so much concern in the burn area of Silverado Canyon that the Orange County EOC activated and so did OCRACES a couple of times. At 0700 hours on Tuesday, December 2nd, the EOC was activated and staffed with County agency representatives, to prepare for a voluntary evacuation of the Silverado Canyon burn area, due to potential flooding and debris flows. OCSD Emergency Communications Manager Delia Kraft, KF6UYW, requested OCRACES Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, to activate RACES. He arrived at the EOC at 0700, along with Tom Riley, K6TPR. The next shifts were filled by Ken Tucker, WF6F, Randy Benicky, N6PRL, John Bedford, KF6PRN, Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, and Radio Officer Scott Byington, KC6MMF.

Some of the OCRACES members at the OC EOC RACES Room during the December 2nd rain activation included (left to right) Randy Benicky, N6PRL, Ken Tucker, WF6F, and Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK.

At 0833 on December 11th, ECM Kraft asked Capt. Bourne to activate OCRACES because of a strong storm. Tom Riley, K6TPR, was already on-scene at the EOC. He was later relieved by Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, and Randy Benicky, N6PRL. Others were in the wings ready to serve, but the rain let up and the EOC and OCRACES were deactivated at about 1330 hours.

During both of these December events, OCRACES was prepared to provide backup communications in the event that residents of Silverado Canyon in the burn area had to be evacuated.

KK6CUS and N6PRL Chosen Officer and Member of the Year

Officer of the Year Bob McFadden, KK6CUS (left), and Member of the Year Randy Benicky, N6PRL.


At the annual OCRACES Holiday Dinner on December 1, 2014, at Ricardo's Don José in Orange, OCSD Emergency Communications Manager presented the Officer of the Year award to Assistant Radio Officer Bob McFadden, KK6CUS, and the Member of the Year award to Randy Benicky, N6PRL. Congratulations to Bob and Randy, who contributed much to the RACES program in 2014.

RACES Participates in MARRITE

Mobile command post vehicles from various agencies at the Multi-Agency Regional Radio Interoperability Training Exercise.

The California Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee (CalSIEC) Southern Planning Area (SPA) conducted the Multi-Agency Regional Radio Interoperability Training Exercise (MARRITE) on Tuesday, November 18, 2014, from 8:00 AM until noon, at the Orange County Public Works (OCPW) facility in Orange. The purpose of this exercise was to test the interoperable capability of radio communications equipment inside mobile command post vehicles. Participants confirmed proper re-naming/labeling of interoperability and mutual-aid channels, verified frequency and PL compliance on VHF, UHF, 700-MHz, and 800-MHz channels, and tested communications on pre-identified interoperability channels with other Operational Areas, including Riverside. RACES/ACS units also participated, testing their radios on amateur radio frequencies.

MARRITE participants at the Orange site included Anaheim PD mobile command post (MCP), Anaheim RACES, California DOT Heavy Vehicle, California Highway Patrol, City of Orange Police MCP, City of Orange RACES (COAR), Costa Mesa PD/RACES (MESAC), Garden Grove PD MCP, Huntington Beach PD MCP, Huntington Park PD MCP, Irvine PD MCP, Irvine RACES (IDEC), Laguna Beach RACES (LBECT), LASD, OC Fire Authority, OCPW, OCSD Samantha II, OCSD Communications & Technology OASIS Trailer, OCRACES, Santa Ana PD MCP, Santa Ana RACES (SART), and West-Comm MCP.

RACES and MOU Units Assist with General Election

City and County RACES and MOU units provided communications for ballot transportation from 33 Collection Centers to the Vote Tally Center (VTC) on Tuesday, November 4, 2014, at the close of the General Election. Communicators recorded the precinct numbers of the boxes being loaded into the vans, and transmitted them to Net Control when the vans departed from the Collection Centers to the VTC. Three OCRACES repeaters were used for this election.

RACES and MOU Units Paticipate in October 4th Drill

We had good participation in the City/County RACES & MOU drill on Saturday, October 4, 2014, hosted by the OCSD Communications & Technology Division. The drill scenario was a coordinated terrorist attack on the electrical power grids, causing major power outages throughout 70 percent of Orange County and surrounding counties. High temperatures were forecasted for multiple days, and the County 800-MHz system was only at 80 percent capability due to backup generator failures at several sites, causing pockets of poor communications throughout the County.

OCRACES members and applicant and HDSCS member operate at Orange County EOC RACES Room during City/County RACES & MOU Drill on October 4, 2014.

The drill was organized into different exercise options, including general messages, simplex contacts, Winlink operations, and HF NVIS communications. A total of 17 City and MOU organizations participated while 11 OCRACES members and applicant and Hospital Disaster Support Communications System (HDSCS) member staffed the County EOC RACES Room to handle message traffic using the ICS 309 communications log and the ICS 213 message form.

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

April 6: 1900
2 m: Tom Tracey, KC6FIC
Pager: Scott Byington, KC6MMF

April 6: 1930
840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange

April 9: 1330-1530
WebEOC Orientation, OC EOC

April 13: 1900
2 m: Ken Tucker, WF6F
Pager: Ernest Fierheller, KG6LXT

April 13: 1920
Cooperative T-Hunt

April 14: 1330-1530
EOC Planning and Intel Section Training, OC EOC

April 20: 1900
2 m: Brian Turner, KI6WZS
Pager: Bob McFadden, KK6CUS

April 22: 1330-1530
Introduction to SEMS, NIMS & EOC Orientation, OC EOC

April 27: 1900
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m: Tom Wright, KJ6SPE
Pager: Harvey Packard, KM6BV

April 27: 2015
Southwest ACS Frequency/Radio Test at OC EOC

May 2: 0900-1100
City/County RACES & MOU Drill

May 4: 1900
2 m: Jeff Yost, KE7EWG
Pager: Tom Tracey, KC6FIC

May 4: 1930

840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange

May 11: 1900
2 m: Jack Barth, AB6VC
Pager: Ken Bourne, W6HK

May 11: 1920
Cooperative T-Hunt

May 18: 1900
2 m: John Bedford, KF6PRN
Pager: Jack Barth, AB6VC

May 18: 1915
City/County RACES & MOU Meeting, 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange

May 25: 1900
2 m: Randy Benicky, N6PRL
Pager: Scott Byington, KC6MMF

June 27-28
Field Day

September 11-13
ARRL Southwestern Division Convention (HAMCON)
Torrance Marriott South Bay Hotel, 3635 Fashion Way, Torrance