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: March 6, 2017

The next County of Orange RACES meeting will be on Monday, March 6, 2017, at 7:30 PM, at 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, in Orange. Our guest speaker will be Sheriff Reserve Sgt. Sam Chan, KI6KUM, who will discuss how RACES and the OCSD Search & Rescue Reserve Unit can work closely together during some call-outs and exercises.

Next Cooperative T-Hunt: March 20, 2017, on 2 Meters

The next Cooperative T-Hunt will be on Monday, March 20, 2017, immediately following the 7:00 PM OCRACES ACS net. The fox will transmit tones at about 7:20 PM 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 a few days before the hunt. Hunters will compare bearings on another frequency, and are encouraged to beacon their locations via APRS throughout the hunt. This is an exercise in working together to quickly locate interference. We are looking for a volunteer to be the fox on this hunt. A programmed fox box is available.

OCRACES Activates for Winter Storm

Randy Benicky, N6PRL (left, in left picture), and RACES Capt. Ken Bourne, W6HK, at the EOC RACES Room on January 5th. Some of the OCRACES members serving in the EOC RACES Room on January 6th (right picture) including (left to right) Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, RACES Lt. Harvey Packard, KM6BV, Ken Tucker, WF6F, and Joe Selikov, KB6EID.

The Orange County Operational Area Emergency Operations Center activated to a level two at 0800 hours on Tuesday, January 5, 2016, in response to a forecasted, major, El Niño Storm Event. The hotline was activated to take calls from the public. The National Weather Service had predicted significant rainfall between Tuesday and Thursday to fall throughout Orange County. This was the first El Niño Event of 2016 and had the potential to cause widespread flooding throughout Southern California. The OCSD Emergency Management Division requested that the EOC RACES Room be staffed around the clock by at least one OCRACES member. OCSD Emergency Communications Manager Lee Kaser, KK6VIV, notified Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, the previous evening of the pending activation, and Ken reported to the EOC at 0800 Tuesday to set up RACES shifts.

At about noon on Tuesday, Randy Benicky, N6PRL, arrived for his shift. A bulletin was issued about a flash flood warning for northeastern Orange County until 1600 hours. Doppler radar indicated heavy rain approaching the Silverado Canyon area. Flash flooding was likely plus debris flows within and downstream of the 2014 Silverado fire burn scar. A dangerous situation was declared for Silverado Canyon residents, and immediate measures were advised to protect life and property. Anaheim RACES Member Ducky Breton, KW6ACK, reported (via 2 meters) a flood on northbound I-5 at 1st and 4th Streets in Santa Ana, which OCRACES relayed to CHP. Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, was at the EOC by 1730 hours, and worked until the EOC activation was reduced to a level one at 1900 hours.

The EOC was reactivated to a level two at 0800 hours on Wednesday. Voluntary evacuation was scheduled for Silverado Canyon for 1000 hours. American Red Cross established a Care and Reception Center at the Silverado Community Center for evacuated residents at 1000 hours. Ken Tucker, WF6F, was scheduled to report to the RACES Room for a 0730 to 1200 shift. Capt. Bourne arrived before 1000 hours to check shift schedules and to communicate with Cal OES on the 40-meter California Emergency Services Net. Lt. Harvey Packard, KM6BV, and Joe Selikov, KB6EID, worked the 1130-1500 shift. Also at the RACES Room during the morning shifts was Fran, KJ6UJS. Tom Riley, K6TPR, worked the 1430 to 1830 shift, and was relieved by Lt. Scott Byington, KC6MMF, at 1800. At 2000 hours, the EOC activation went to a level one. OCRACES members who were ready to serve on assigned shifts that were canceled Tuesday and Wednesday nights and into the following mornings included Jim Dorris, KC6RFC, Roger Berchtold, WB6HMW, Ken Tucker, WF6F, Ken Bourne, W6HK, Tom Riley, K6TPR, and Kenan Reilly, KR6J.

RACES Participates in MARRITE

Ken Bourne, W6HK (left photo), ran the MARRITE amateur radio net control from the OCRACES van. Tom Riley, K6TPR (foreground in the right photo), drove the OCRACES van to the MARRITE site and served as net control scribe. Observing is Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, who worked with Tom and others on setup and demobilization.

County of Orange RACES participated in the 2015 Multi-Agency Regional Radio Interoperability Training Exercise (MARRITE) on Tuesday, November 17, 2015, at the Huntington City Beach parking lot in Huntington Beach. Known in previous exercises as the “Radio Rodeo,” this annual event was hosted by the California Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee (CalSIEC) Southern Planning Area (SPA), consisting of the 12 counties comprising the southern section of the state. Representative agencies from four of these counties—Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino, as well as the State—participated in this exercise.

Setup began before 0700 hours, with participant briefing at 0830 and the Radio Roll Call after 0900. The event concluded after 1100, followed by viewing of participants’ vehicles and equipment.

The exercise provided an environment and opportunity for Responder Agencies to test their public-safety interoperable radio communications equipment and procedures in an environment simulating an actual incident. Local agencies’ were tested on their ability to respond effectively to a local incident requiring the deployment, setup, and operation of mobile communications resources.

Tom Riley, K6TPR, drove the OCRACES van to the site. Other OCRACES members arrived at the site to assist in setting up and operating the equipment, including Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK (OCRACES Activity Coordinator, COML Assistant), Radio Officer Harvey Packard, KM6BV (OCSD Command Post operator in Samantha II trailer), Assistant Radio Officer Bob McFadden, KK6CUS (in charge of the OASIS Trailer and event documentation), Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, Kenan Reilly, KR6J (Operations/Dispatch Chief/COML), Brad Russo, KB6GPM, and Assistant Radio Officer Tom Tracey, KC6FIC. Also at the event was Ray Grimes, N8RG, who displayed the Orange County Sheriff’s Museum’s classic 1962 Chrysler Newport patrol car. (Ray is a Founder/Co-Director of the Museum.) City RACES units at MARRITE included Costa Mesa (MESAC), Cypress/Los Alamitos/Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Irvine (IDEC), Laguna Beach, and Orange (COAR). Amateur Radio roll call began with the local City RACES units as well as the OCSD Samantha II trailer, followed by a roll call by Cal OES on the Cactus Intertie system and then by OCRACES on Orange County repeaters. 

OCRACES Shows Van at OCFA Open House

Some of the OCRACES members and applicants at the OCFA Open House included (left to right) Bill Borg, KG6PEX, Jack Clough, KK6VNB, Tom Riley, K6TPR, Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, Brad Russo, KB6GPM, and Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ.

OCRACES exhibited its emergency communications response vehicle at the Orange County Fire Authority Open House on Saturday, October 24, 2015. The event was well attended, and included live fire demonstrations and displays of fire-fighting apparatus. OCRACES members at the event included Bill Borg, KG6PEX, Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, Tom Riley, K6TPR, and Brad Russo, KB6GPM. Three OCRACES applicants also participated, including Jack Clough, KK6VNB, Ken Munsil, KJ6NYW, and Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ.

RACES and MOU Units Participate in October 3rd Drill

County and City RACES and MOU members participated in the City/County RACES & MOU Drill on Saturday, October 3, 2015. The scenario for this drill was flooding and mudslides, due to intense El Niño conditions.

The drill lasted from 9:00 AM until 11:00 AM. Drill messages were signed by OCSD Communications & Technology Division Program Support Manager Delia Kraft, KR6AFT, who wrote the original drill plan. OCRACES Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, oversaw the drill, and Training Sergeant Tom Tracey, KC6FIC, commanded the operation.

Handling outgoing traffic were Roger Berchtold, WB6HMW, Joe Selikov, KB6EID, Radio Officer Scott Byington, KC6MMF, Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, and Applicant Jack Clough, KK6VNB. Incoming traffic was handled by Assistant Radio Officer Jack Barth, AB6VC, Bill Borg, KG6PEX, Radio Officer Harvey Packard, KM6BV, and Ken Tucker, WF6F. Assistant Radio Officer Bob McFadden, KK6CUS< conducted Winlink operations. Randy Benicky, N6PRL, and Applicant Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ, ran a successful 40-meter operation. Hospital Disaster Support Communications System (HDSCS) Assistant Coordinator Jon Schaffer, W6UFS, ran "Hospital Group" traffic.

Participating City RACES units included Brea, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fullerton, Huntington Beach, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Seal Beach, and Westminster. MOUs included American Red Cross, HDSCS, and Orange County SKYWARN.

OCRACES Participates in Field Day at Craig Regional Park

Gathered after hoisting the tri-band beam (with 40-meter add-on) onto the Will-Burt mast at the OCRACES van are (left to right) Dennis Brunning, KC6NVX, Walter Kroy, KC6HAM, Capt. Ken Bourne, W6HK, Lt. Harvey Packard, KM6BV, OCSD Communications Division Director Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ, Sgt. Jack Barth, AB6VC, and Kenan Reilly, KR6J.

The weekend of June 27-28, 2015, at Craig Regional Park in Fullerton, was a highly successful Field Day for OCRACES, thanks to the efforts of leaders Kenan Reilly, KR6J, Bob McFadden, KK6CUS, Jack Barth, AB6VC, and other enthusiastic members including Randy Benicky, N6PRL, Bill Borg, KG6PEX, Ken Bourne, W6HK, Walter Kroy, KC6HAM, Martin La Rocque, N6NTH, Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, Harvey Packard, KM6BV, Tom Riley, K6TPR (who drove the OCRACES van to the park), Tom Tracey, KC6FIC, Ken Tucker, WF6F, and Tom Wright, KJ6SPE. Applicant Dennis Brunning, KC6NVX, worked hard with the members to construct the antennas and enjoy operating. Applicant Roger Berchtold, WB6HMW, also participated.

OCSD Communications & Technology Division personnel supplied considerable support to the OCRACES Field Day effort, including Program Support Manager Delia Kraft, KR6AFT, (who made important event arrangements), Senior Telecommunications Engineer Nick Condaras, KD3QY (who scheduled engineers and technicians to work on the van and other technical issues for the event), Communications Technician II Peter Jimenez, KI6UTE (who drove the Division's Communications Field Support trailer to the site and worked hard with antenna installations), and Telecommunications Engineer III Brad Russo, KB6GPM (who was the event's master chef).

May 2nd Drill Focuses on 7.2 Earthquake

The bi-annual County/City RACES and MOU drill took place on Saturday, May 2, 2015. Tom Tracey and Ernest Fierheller were assigned to lead the OCRACES members, organize messages, and maintain documentation. Both members executed their duties very well. The drill was organized into different exercise options, including general messages, simplex contacts, Winlink operations, and HF NVIS communications. A total of 18 City and MOU organizations participated while 12 OCRACES members and applicant staffed the County EOC RACES Room on Loma Ridge to handle message traffic using the ICS 213 message form. Participating OCRACES members included Jack Barth, AB6VC, John Bedford, KF6PRN, Randy Benicky, N6PRL, Bill Borg, KG6PEX, Scott Byington, KC6MMF, Ernest Fierheller, KG6LXT, Bob McFadden, KK6CUS, Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, Harvey Packard, KM6BV, Kenan Reilly, KR6J, Tom Tracey, KC6FIC, and Tom Wright, KJ6SPE. Also operating was OCRACES Applicant Roger Berchtold, WB6HMW. Emergency Communications Manager Delia Kraft, KR6AFT, composed replies to the messages received at the EOC during the drill.

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 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

February 27: 1900 hours
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m/10 m: Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ
Pager: Tom Tracey, KC6FIC

March 6: 1900 hours
2 m: Ken Tucker, WF6F
Pager: Jack Barth, AB6VC

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

March 13: 1900 hours
2 m: Tom Wright, KJ6SPE
Pager: Ken Bourne, W6HK

March 20: 1900 hours
2 m: Jack Barth, AB6VC
Pager: Scott Byington, KC6MMF

March 20: 1920 hours
Cooperative T-Hunt

March 27: 1900 hours
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m/10 m: Randy Benicky, N6PRL
Pager: Ernest Fierheller, KG6LXT