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, January 6th

The next County of Orange RACES meeting will be on Monday, January 6, 2020, at 7:30 PM, at 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, in Orange.


OCRACES Activates Severe Fire Weather Patrols

We are now at that time of year when the Santa Ana winds blow, the humidity drops, and wildland fires threaten. The National Weather Service has been issuing Red Flag Warnings and High Wind Warnings, resulting in the Orange County Sheriff's Department Emergency Management Division activating stationary Fire Watch observers (who focus especially on the Orange County Parks) and roving teams such as the County of Orange RACES Severe Fire Weather Patrol and OCSD's Professional Services Responders (PSRs), typically covering Brea Canyon, Carbon Canyon, Santiago Canyon, Black Star Canyon, Williams Canyon, Modjeska Canyon, Live Oak Canyon, Trabuco Canyon, and points along Ortega Highway and coastal areas. Hams in the various Fire Watch groups communicate through the SOARA repeater, while Severe Fire Weather Patrollers use the 2-meter OCRACES repeater and sometimes one of the OCRACES UHF repeaters. City RACES members who have trained at OCRACES meetings for Severe Fire Weather Patrol have volunteered their time to ride with OCRACES members on patrol. Most recently, the Severe Fire Weather Patrols have been active on October 10th and 11th, October 24th, and October 30th. Some city RACES units have also been conducting fire patrols.


Great ShakeOut Drill Gathers 35 Participants

In support of the Orange County Sheriff's Department Emergency Management Division (EMD), County of Orange RACES activated at the EOC at Loma Ridge for the Great ShakeOut on Thursday, October 17, 2019, from approximately 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM, taking calls on the OCRACES 2-meter repeater from OCRACES members as well as from members of City RACES and MOU units.

Participants gave simulated "Mike-Mike" earthquake intensity reports, using the Modified Mercalli Earthquake Intensity Scale (which may be downloaded from the "Forms" page on this website). Reports were received at the EOC from 35 participants, who were not only OCRACES members and applicants but were also members of city RACES units in Fullerton, Orange, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Newport Beach, Placentia, and Westminster. Tri-Cities RACES (Dana Point, San Clemente, and San Juan Capistrano) members also participated, as did American Red Cross.


RACES Runs Deployment Drill on October 5, 2019

 
Bob McFadden, KK6CUS, set up a portable station on 60 meters and 2 meters and 70 centimeters at picturesque Strand Beach in Dana Point (left photo). He also ran Winlink. Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ, set up a relay station in Belmont Park (right photo), high in the hills of Orange.

City and County RACES units conducted a deployment drill on Saturday, October 5, 2019, from 0900 to 1100 hours. American Red Cross also participated. Unit members set up portable stations on 60 meters as well as on OCRACES repeaters on 2 meters and 70 centimeters, looking for areas that were difficult for accessing the repeaters, such as deep in canyons or below seaside cliffs, and overcoming these difficulties with simplex relays through stations at high locations and via NVIS (near vertical incidence skywave) propagation on 60 meters. Many of the portable and mobile stations beaconed their locations via APRS, either over the air or via a cell-phone app.

OCRACES Members and applicants operated as net control in the Orange County EOC RACES Room at Loma Ridge. Other members checked repeater coverage along Loma Ridge Jeep Trail and in the eastern end of Silverado Canyon Road. One member set up a 2-m/70-cm, 60-m, and Winlink portable station at Strand Beach in Dana Point. Another member set up a portable station at Belmont Park in the Orange hills, operating as a relay station on 2-m/70-cm simplex and 60 m. Another member covered Ortega Highway on 2-m/70-cm and 60-m mobile.

Effective tests were conducted not only by OCRACES but also by RACES/ACS units from Brea, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Irvine, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, San Juan Capistrano (Tri-Cities RACES), and Westminster. Although Huntington Beach RACES was busy with communications for the city's Great Pacific Airshow (with assistance from Costa Mesa RACES), they managed to check into the drill. Amercan Red Cross was also active in the drill, as was Cal OES CRU.

Six Winlink messages were received at the EOC from deployed stations.

While many of the deployed stations contacted the EOC on 60 meters, Ventura County ACS and Nye County (Nevada) EmComm also participated, plus other visitors. Using NVIS propagation, Ventura County ACS was able to provide relays between the 60-meter portable stations deployed throughout Orange County.


ACS Radio Rodeo Rides Again on May 4, 2019 

 
Assistant Radio Officer Bob McFadden, KK6CUS (left photo), at Control 7 and Radio Officer Scott Byington, KC6MMF, at his 60-meter portable station during ACS Radio Rodeo on May 4, 2019.

City and County RACES and MOU units participated in the annual ACS Radio Rodeo on Saturday, May 4, 2019, as they gathered at the rear parking lot of OCSD Communications & Technology Division in Orange. They began setting up before 0800 hours with OCSD’s Control 7 Chevy Tahoe providing net-control facilities on 2 meters and 70 centimeters, Peter Putnam’s (NI6E from Newport Beach RACES) surplus news van providing net-control facilities on 6 meters and 1¼ meters, and OCRACES Lt. Scott Byington’s (KC6MMF) portable station providing net-control facilities on 60 meters. At 0830 hours, OCRACES Capt. Ken Bourne briefed all participants of exercise procedures. Questions were answered on 146.595 MHz simplex.

Beginning at 0900 hours, roll calls of stations at the local site were conducted on the five bands. The first local net was on 60 meters, run by Lt. Byington, with 10 check-ins. Near Scott’s setup was a portable station set up by OCRACES Sgt. Jack Barth, AB6VC. The 60-meter net was run on 5346.5 kHz upper sideband (dial frequency), the same frequency that has been used most Saturday mornings at 10:00 AM for the Cal OES Southern Region ACS Net, usually run by OCRACES. (As of July 28, 2019, the Saturday nets will move to 5371.5 kHz upper sideband dial frequency, due to noise interference.) The next two Rodeo nets were run on the OCRACES 2-meter repeater (29 check-ins) and then on the 448.320 MHz repeater (21 check-ins) by Roger Berchtold, WB6HMW (sadly, now a silent key), from Control 7, while Sgt. Bob McFadden, KK6CUS, oversaw operations. The final two nets were conducted on the OCRACES 6-meter repeater (11 check-ins) and 1¼-meter repeater (16 check-ins) by Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ, assisted by Tom Wright, KJ6SPE, from the NI6E van. Announcements of net-frequency changes were made by OCRACES Sgt. Tom Tracey, KC6FIC, on 146.595 MHz simplex. OCSD Emergency Communications Manager Lee Kaser, KK6VIV, made announcements over the Control 7 public-address system. Other OCRACES members participating and checking into the nets included Matt Luczko, KM6CAO, and Randy Benicky, N6PRL, both checking in from Randy’s car, Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ (who was also the event evaluator), Sgt. Jack Barth, AB6VC, from his portable station, Walter Kroy, KC6HAM, Sgt. Ernest Fierheller, KG6LXT, and Fran Needham, KJ6UJS. Applicant John Pilger, K6PIO, also checked in.

At 1000 hours, OCRACES began checking in on eight different Cal OES nets run from the Southern Region EOC in Los Alamitos. The nets were on 60 meters Channel 2, Cactus 70-cm linked system, SCRN 70-cm linked system, EARN 1¼-m linked system, OCRACES 448.320 MHz repeater, LACDCS repeaters, and a Riverside County 1¼-m RACES repeater. OCRACES checked in from Lt. Byington’s station, Control 7, and the NI6E van. During this time period, local participants inspected Control 7, the NI6E van, Placentia Police Department’s impressive Mobile Command Vehicle, and portable stations from OCRACES members as well as members from Buena Park RACES, Costa Mesa RACES (MESAC), Fountain Valley RACES, Huntington Beach RACES, Laguna Woods RACES (Radio Officer Bruce Bonbright, NH7WG, who also communicated with their Incident Command Post in a field behind the Laguna Woods Community Center), Mission Viejo RACES, Westminster RACES, and American Red Cross. Members from Anaheim RACES, Laguna Niguel ACS, and Orange RACES (COAR) also participated and communicated with their members who were deployed to other events, such as most COAR members who were with the Orange Police Mobile Command Vehicle at the Orange May Parade.


OCRACES Activates for February 2nd Flash Flood Warning

On Friday, February 1, 2019, OCSD Emergency Communications Manager Lee Kaser, KK6VIV, and OCRACES Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, discussed the Flash Flood Warning that was predicted for the next day, Saturday, February 2nd, and that, if it occurred, OCRACES should activate. Sure enough, the National Weather Service declared a Flash Flood Warning on Saturday. When that happened, Capt. Bourne contacted Assistant Radio Officer Tom Tracey, KC6FIC, and requested him to notify all members via AlertOC of an activation. Upon receiving his AlertOC notification of the activation, Radio Officer Scott Byington, KC6MMF, called Capt. Bourne on the OCRACES 2-meter repeater and asked what was required. Bourne said he was on his way to the Orange County EOC and needed one more member at the EOC RACES Room. Lt. Byington soon headed to the EOC.

Activation announcements stated that flooding or emergency reports would be taken from OCRACES members in the field and relayed to the EOC Command Center from the RACES Room. However, OCSD Emergency Management Division (EMD) did not activate the EOC, but Bourne and Byington could have run any emergency messages to Control One if necessary. After a couple of hours, it appeared that weather conditions were not so severe that the activation had to continue, and therefore OCRACES was deactivated.

On February 14th, NWS issued another Flash Flood Warning and the EOC activated to Level 3 (low level). OCRACES was advised that no response was needed until EMD elevated the level (which they didn't). All members were asked to advise of their availability in case of activation.


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

December 16: 1900 hours
OCRACES ACS Net
2 m: Ernest Fierheller, KG6LXT

December 16: 1920 hours
Cooperative T-Hunt

December 23: 1900 hours
OCRACES ACS Net
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m/10 m: Martin La Rocque, N6NTH

December 30: 1900 hours
OCRACES ACS Net
2 m: Ken Bourne, W6HK

January 6: 1900 hours
OCRACES ACS Net
2 m: Ray Grimes, N8RG

January 6: 1930 hours
OCRACES Meeting
840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange

January 11: 1000 hours
Cal OES Southwest ACS Leadership Meeting

January 13: 1900 hours
OCRACES ACS Net
2 m: Lee Kaser, KK6VIV

January 20: 1900 hours
OCRACES ACS Net
2 m: Walter Kroy, KC6HAM

January 20: 1920 hours
Cooperative T-Hunt

January 27: 1900 hours
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m/10 m: Bob McFadden, KK6CUS

February 10: 1930 hours
City/County RACES & MOU Meeting, 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange