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.

OCRACES Holiday Dinner: December 7th

The annual OCRACES Holiday Dinner will be on Monday, December 7, 2015, at 6:30 PM, at Ricardo's Don José, 1230 E. Katella Ave., in Orange. There will be no regular meeting or net on December 7th. RSVP is required. Contact OCSD/Communications Program Support Manager Delia Kraft, KR6AFT before December 1st.

Next Cooperative T-Hunt: December 14th on 2 Meters

The next Cooperative T-Hunt will be on Monday, December 14 2015, immediately following the 7:00 PM OCRACES ACS net. The fox will will transmit on the input of the OCRACES 2-meter repeater, and hunters will compare bearings on another frequency. The fox and hiding place (city or sector of Orange County) will be announced a few days before the hunt. No fees will be required to drive directly to the fox. Hunters are encouraged to beacon their locations via APRS. This is an exercise in working together to quickly locate interference.

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.

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 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.

December 7: 1830
OCRACES Holiday Dinner (no net, no regular meeting)

December 14: 1900
2 m: Jim Dorris, KC6RFC
Pager: Ken Bourne, W6HK

December 14: 1920
Cooperative T-Hunt

December 21: 1900
2 m: Ernest Fierheller, KG6LXT
Pager: Scott Byington, KC6MMF

December 28: 1900
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m: Walter Kroy, KC6HAM
Pager: Ernest Fierheller, KG6LXT

January 4: 1900
2 m: Ray Grimes, N8RG
Pager: Bob McFadden, KK6CUS

January 4: 1930
840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange

January 11: 1900
2 m: Martin La Rocque, N6NTH
Pager: Harvey Packard, KM6BV

January 18: 1920
Cooperative T-Hunt

January 18: 1915
2 m: Bob McFadden, KK6CUS
Pager: Tom Tracey, KC6FIC

January 25: 1900
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m: Fran Needham, KJ6UJS
Pager: Jack Barth, AB6VC

February 8: 1915
City/County RACES & MOU Meeting, 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange

February 15: 1920
Cooperative T-Hunt

July 4: Independence Day
No meeting, no net

July 11: 1930
840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange