OCRACES

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, March 4, 2019

The next County of Orange RACES meeting will be on Monday, March 4, 2019, at 7:30 PM, at 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, in Orange. Fountain Valley RACES Chief Radio Officer will give a highly informative presentation on loop antennas. All radio amateurs are invited to attend.


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.


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 23: 1000 hours
Cal OES Southern Region 60-meter ACS Net
5346.5 kHz USB (dial frequency)

February 25: 1900 hours
OCRACES ACS Nets
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m/10 m: David Corsiglia, WA6TWF
Pager: Scott Byington, KC6MMF

March 2: 1000 hours
Cal OES Southern Region 60-meter ACS Net
5346.5 kHz USB (dial frequency)

March 4: 1900 hours
OCRACES ACS Net
2 m: Ernest Fierheller, KG6LXT
Pager: Ernest Fierheller, KG6LXT

March 4: 1930 hours
OCRACES Meeting
840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104,
Orange

March 9: 1000 hours
Cal OES Southern Region 60-meter ACS Net
5346.5 kHz USB (dial frequency)

March 11: 1900 hours
OCRACES ACS Net
2 m: Ray Grimes, N8RG
Pager: Bob McFadden, KK6CUS

March 16: 1000 hours
Cal OES Southern Region 60-meter ACS Net
5346.5 kHz USB (dial frequency)

March 18: 1900 hours
OCRACES ACS Net
2 m: Walter Kroy, KC6HAM
Pager: Tom Tracey, KC6FIC

March 18: 1920 hours
Cooperative T-Hunt

March 23: 1000 hours
Cal OES Southern Region 60-meter ACS Net
5346.5 kHz USB (dial frequency)

March 23-24
Baker to Las Vegas Challenge Cup Relay

March 25: 1900 hours
OCRACES ACS Nets
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m/10 m: Martin La Rocque, N6NTH
Pager: Jack Barth, AB6VC