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: June 5, 2017

The next County of Orange RACES meeting will be on Monday, June 5, 2017, at 7:30 PM, at 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, in Orange. Newport Beach Chief Radio Officer Peter Putnam, NI6E, will give a presentation on his 2004 Ford E-350 TV news van that he purchased last year. The van includes a Will-Burt 9.5-56 pneumatic mast that extends to 56 feet.

Next Cooperative T-Hunt: June 19, 2017, on 2 Meters

The next Cooperative T-Hunt will be on Monday, June 19, 2017, immediately following the 7:00 PM OCRACES ACS net. Dennis Brunning, KC6NVX, will be the fox. He 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 Westminster. 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.

OCRACES Activates for Winter Storm

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 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 and MOU Units Participate in ACS Exercise

(Left to right) Martin La Rocque, N6NTH, and RACES Sgt. Jack Barth, AB6VC, send outgoing messages, while Matt Luczko, KM6CAO, and Randy Benicky, N6PRL, are at the 40-meter station during the October 1, 2016, City/County RACES & MOU ACS Exercise.

County of Orange RACES conducted the City/County RACES & MOU ACS Exercise on October 1, 2016, from the RACES Room at the Orange County EOC and at the OCRACES van at the “Career Fair” at the Sheriff’s Academy in Tustin. Also participating were 14 City RACES units (Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, Orange, Seal Beach, and Westminster) and two MOU units (American Red Cross and Hospital Disaster Support Communications System, HDSCS).

At the EOC RACES Room were Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, Sergeants Jack Barth, AB6VC, Ernest Fierheller, KG6LXT, and Tom Tracey, KC6FIC, Members Randy Benicky, N6PRL, Roger Berchtold, WB6HMW, Martin La Rocque, N6NTH, and Tom Wright, KJ6SPE, and Applicants Brian Ahn, KM6CXL, and Matt Luczko, KM6CAO. Also at the RACES Room was Ken Simpson, W6KOS, from HDSCS.

Operating from the OCRACES van, which was on display at the Sheriff’s Career Fair in Tustin, were OCSD Emergency Communications Manager Lee Kaser, KK6VIV, and Members Tom Riley, K6TPR, and Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ. Ken Bourne, W6HK, joined them after the drill.

OCRACES sent 15 messages plus four replies, and received 28 messages, during the “General” portion of the drill. OCRACES sent nine messages with attachments to each of the City RACES units on Winlink and received 15 messages (six with Notepad, Word, PDF, and WebEOC-form attachments). We did not have a simplex position in the RACES Room. In the next drill (May 6, 2017), we might send a couple of members up the hill outside the EOC with a simplex radio.

HF propagation on 40 meters was quite poor during the drill. Net Control checked in eight City RACES Units and one MOU.

For the first time, we tried a DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) test during the drill. Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ, ran the DMR net from another location, and used the N6GGS repeater on Santiago Peak (thanks to Pat Stewart, KA6P, one of the repeater owners).

OCRACES Participates in Field Day with OCARC

OCRACES Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK (left photo), operates Field Day VHF/UHF station in OCRACES van, while Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ, in his tent, tries for a Field Day satellite contact.

The Orange County Amateur Radio Club (OCARC) and County of Orange RACES (OCRACES) participated as a team at Field Day on Saturday, June 25-26, 2016, at the Walter Knott Education Center in Buena Park. It was an enjoyable event, and many members attended.

OCARC members began constructing their HF antennas and towers at 0900 hours on Friday, June 24th. Their stations operated on 15 meters phone/CW, 20 meters phone, 20 meters CW, digital all bands, 40 meters phone/CW, and satellite. They also had a GOTA station for visitors to operate. OCRACES arrived before 0800 Saturday to set up its van and VHF/UHF station. OCARC Member Tim Goeppinger, N6GP, provided a Moxon 6-meter antenna, which was mounted on the van’s Will-Burt mast. OCRACES/OCARC Member Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ, who set up and operated the club’s satellite station, provided a 2-meter/70-centimeter loop antenna for the van’s station.

The location was excellent, with a nice shady spot for the OCRACES van. A Boy Scout troop cooked excellent meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) for all participants, available at a very reasonable cost as a fund raiser for the Scouts.

Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, drove the OCRACES van from Eckhoff to the Field Day site on Saturday, and then back to Eckhoff on Sunday. The van and VHF/UHF stations were set up by Fran, Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, Tom Riley, K6TPR, Tom Wright, KJ6SPE, Walter Kroy, KC6HAM, and Radio Officer Harvey Packard, KM6BV. Also present most of the day was Martin La Rocque, N6NTH. Radio Officer Scott Byington, KC6MMF, stopped by on his way to Las Vegas for a relative’s wedding event.

Due to an OCSD Search & Rescue and Aero Squadron Reserve exercise on Saturday, some members arrived late Saturday, or could not participate. After the exercise, Assistant Radio Officer Bob McFadden, KK6CUS, stayed into late evening, and came back on Sunday. David Corsiglia, WA6TWF, also participated on Saturday.

Demobilization began at 1100 hours on Sunday, by Ken, W6HK, Fran, KJ6UJS, Bob, KK6CUS, Walter, KC6HAM, and Tony, N2VAJ, as well as by many OCARC members tearing down the HF stations.

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

May 22: 1900 hours
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m/10 m: Walter Kroy, KC6HAM
Pager: Tom Tracey, KC6FIC

May 29: Memorial Day (no net)

June 5: 1900 hours
2 m: Martin La Rocque, N6NTH
Pager: Jack Barth, AB6VC

June 5: 1930 hours
840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange

June 12: 1900 hours
2 m: Matt Luczko, KM6CAO
Pager: Ken Bourne, W6HK

June 12: 1930 hours
City/County RACES & MOU Meeting, 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange

June 19: 1900 hours
2 m: Bob McFadden, KK6CUS
Pager: Scott Byington, KC6MMF

June 19: 1920 hours
Cooperative T-Hunt

June 24-25
Field Day, teamed up with the Orange County Amateur Radio Club

June 26: 1900 hours
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m/10 m: Fran Needham, KJ6UJS
Pager: Ernest Fierheller, KG6LXT

July 3
OCRACES Meeting postponed to July 10

July 10: 1930 hours
840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange

October 2: 1930 hours
840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange

October 7: 0900-1100 hours
City/County RACES & MOU ACS Exercise

October 9: 1920 hours
Cooperative T-Hunt

October 16: 1930 hours
City/County RACES & MOU Meeting, 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange