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.

Fire Patrol Training at Next OCRACES Meeting: September 14th

The next OCRACES Meeting is on Monday, September 14, 2015, at 7:30 PM, at 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, in Orange. At this meeting we will receive our annual Severe Fire Weather Patrol training from the Orange County Fire Authority. Due to the Labor Day holiday, there will be no meeting or net on September 7th, and there will be no cooperative T-hunt in September.

OCRACES at HAMCON: September 12th

OCRACES will give a presentation during a session on "Present and Future of County-Affiliated Disaster Amateur Radio at HAMCON on Saturday, September 12, 2015, at 11:00 AM, at the Torrance Marriott South Bay Hotel, 3635 Fashion Way, in Torrance.

OCRACES at Disaster Preparedness/OCTA Picnic: Sept. 19th

OCRACES will exhibit its emergency communications response vehicle at the Disaster Preparedness/OCTA picnic on Saturday, September 19, 2015. Setup is at 11:15 AM. The event runs from noon until 3:00 PM. The location is at 4301 W. MacArthur Blvd. in Santa Ana.

Next City/County RACES & MOU Meeting: September 21st

The next City/County RACES & MOU meeting is on Monday, September 21, 2015, at 7:15 PM, at 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, in Orange, At this meeting we will discuss plans for the October 3rd City/County RACES & MOU drill.

Next Cooperative T-Hunt: October 12th on 2 Meters

There will be no cooperative T-hunt in September, due to the Labor Day holiday and rescheduling of meetings. The next Cooperative T-Hunt will be on Monday, October 12, 2015, immediately following the 7:00 PM OCRACES ACS net. The fox will hide in a city or sector of Orange County to be announced a few days prior to the hunt. He or she will transmit on the input of the OCRACES 2-meter repeater, and hunters will compare bearings on another frequency. The hiding place will be on paved, publicly accessible property. 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 quickly locating interference.

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 personel 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 Fielheller 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 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.

August 24: 1900
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m: Tom Riley, K6TPR
Pager: Ken Bourne, W6HK

August 24: 2015
Southwest ACS Frequency/Radio Test

August 31: 1900
2 m: Joe Selikov, KB6EID
Pager: Scott Byington, KC6MMF

September 7
Labor Day, no nets, no meeting

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

September 14: 1900
2 m: Tom Tracey, KC6FIC
Pager Ernest Fierheller, KG6LXT

September 14: 1930
OCRACES Meeting, 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange; Severe Fire Weather Patrol training

September 19: 1200-1500
Disaster Preparedness/OCTA Picnic, 4301 W. MacArthur Blvd., Santa Ana (setup at 1115)

September 21: 1900
2 m: Ken Tucker, WF6F
Pager: Bob McFadden, KK6CUS

September 21: 1915
City/County RACES & MOU Meeting
840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange

September 28: 1900
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m: Brian Turner, KI6WZS
Pager: Harvey Packard, KM6BV

October 3: 0900-1100
City/County RACES & MOU Drill

October 18
OCSD Reserve Bureau Picnic, Irvine Lake

November 17
Mutual Agency Regional Radio Interoperability Training Exercise (MARRITE)