County of Orange (California)
Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service

Orange County Sheriff's Department
Emergency Management Division

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County of Orange RACES, an auxiliary communications unit of the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD), is coordinated by OCSD's Emergency Management Division. Members 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 In-Person Meetings and Group Activities Limited

Because of the COVID-19 emergency, most OCRACES outside group activities have been canceled until further notice. OCRACES meetings will be held online on first Mondays at 7:30 PM (second Monday in September). Monday night 2-meter nets at 7:00 PM and Saturday morning 60-meter nets at 10:00 AM will continue. OCRACES members are allowed to enter the EOC RACES Room, but ID card access to the EOC is currently limited mostly to OCRACES officers only.

Websites with COVID-19 Information

The Orange County Health Care Agency website at https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com has information that is regularly updated regarding the status of COVID-19 in Orange County.  A good site to monitor for the latest Orange County COVID-19 news is https://www.ocgov.com.

For information about COVID-19 in the state of California, visit https://covid19.ca.gov. That site emphasizes that if you have any symptoms or are at risk, it’s especially important to stay home and avoid in-person contact with others.

CDC and FEMA have an informative website at  https://www.coronavirus.gov. You can also visit https://www.fema.gov/disaster/coronavirus.

FEMA has a website at https://www.fema.gov/disaster/coronavirus/rumor-control to help you distinguish between rumors and facts regarding the response to the pandemic.

Sign up for County of Orange AlertOC COVID-19 updates to your smartphone. Text “OCCOVID19” to 888777.

OCRACES Participates in Alternate EOC Drill on June 30, 2021

OCRACES played a role in the 2021 Alternate EOC Exercise on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. For realism, this exercise was kept confidential from much of OCSD Emergency Management Division (EMD) personnel until it was activated Wednesday morning. OCRACES, which is an EMD AuxComm unit, was made a component of the exercise, and the exercise was also kept confidential to its members until the OCRACES 2-meter repeater was activated for the event. The exercise scenario was a fail-soft of the 800-MHz radio system, coupled with immediate and severe network connectivity issues at 0600 hours. OCSD Dispatch and Control One experience identical failures, rendering them unable to communicate.  
Radio Officer Scott Byington, KC6MMF, Assistant Emergency Manager Lee Kaser, KK6VIV, and Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK (left to right), at OCFA during the Alternate EOC Exercise.

OCSD Systems confirmed that both the 800-MHz system and the OCSD network connections to Loma Ridge had experienced a very complex cyberattack and they were unable to estimate when the services to the facility would be restored. OCIAC determined that multiple response agencies, transportation, and large corporations across the county were having similar issues and that a foreign government may be at the root of the problem.

The next step in the scenario was for OCSD Executive Command to place all sworn and essential professional staff on Tactical Alert. The OCSD Department Operations Center (DOC) activated to Level 2 at the Southwest Operations Division, Saddleback Station. EMD activated OCRACES on the 2-meter repeater for deployment to predetermined areas to assist with communications. A decision was then made to relocate the EOC to an alternate location. EMD staff rallied at Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) Headquarters in Irvine, recovered the Alternate EOC equipment, and began setup. OCRACES Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, and Radio Officer Scott Byington, KC6MMF, were assigned as AUXC to Control 7 at OCFA, to operate net control, beginning at 0930 hours. Joe Selikov, KB6EID, was ready to activate OCRACES members via AlertOC. He and Steve Livingston, NJ6R, and Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, sent and received exercise traffic in the field.

FEMA ICS and NIMS procedures were followed during the exercise. An ICS-211A form was used at Control 7 for checking in Ken and Scott. Messages were sent and received with the ICS-213 form. All activities were logged on an ICS-214 form.

Radio Rodeo Tests Interoperability on May 19, 2021

The federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program (ICTAP), in partnership with the California Statewide Interoperability Coordinator, with local leadership provided by OCSD Control One Supervising Communications Coordinator Derek Gard, KK6VGY, held the California Interoperable Communication Functional Exercise, called “Radio Rodeo,” on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, at the Honda Center in Anaheim, with some command functions at Loma Ridge. Harlan Squires, KJ7BLY, from Department of Homeland Security/CISA/ICTAP, came in from Arizona to oversee the exercise and greeted OCRACES Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, and Joe Selikov, KB6EID, at Loma Ridge with a surprise Master Scenario Events List (MSEL) of 28 AUXC exercise tasks to be accomplished in addition to ICS 201 (incident briefing) and other RACES tasks that had already been planned. Participants were required to maintain an ICS 214 unit log as they accomplished their tasks. The same MSEL was given to OCRACES Radio Officer Scott Byington, KC6MMF, who was in charge of RACES operations at the Honda Center. This list kept Scott extremely busy, as he delegated tasks throughout the venue to various agencies.

The MSEL required that a frequency for all AUXC be designated, which was already done in our original planning. We had a modified ICS 205 for identifying frequencies according to the exercise timeline.

Setup began at 0700 hours at the Honda Center. Scott Byington set up an impressive 88-foot 60-meter dipole between the tops of tall light posts in the north parking lot. Gary Standard, K6GSX, and Peter Putnam, NI6E, from the Newport Beach Repeater Club EmComm unit, set up another impressive antenna on a very tall trailer-mounted pneumatic tower with Gary’s military adjustable dipole at the top, resonated on 40 meters. This fulfilled another MSEL task.

RACES operations began at 0900, with communications from both locations to outside Orange County exercise venues (Riverside City CERT, Riverside County RACES at the Ben Clark Training Center, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Communications Center, and Maricopa County ARES in Phoenix, Arizona, via the Cactus Intertie System on 70 centimeters. At 0930 hours, communications from both locations were conducted to outside Orange County exercise venues on 40 meters and 60 meters. The stations at the Honda Center were more successful on HF, because they were using horizontal antennas, which are effective for Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS) propagation. The Hy-Gain DX-88 vertical antenna at Loma Ridge has a lower angle of radiation and is effective at greater distances, but is not good for NVIS communications within 300 to 400 miles.

Beginning at 1000 hours, simplex communications were conducted locally at the Honda Center and from Loma Ridge on 146.595 MHz. Before 1100 hours, communications were also conducted on the 156.895 MHz repeater and on the 449.100 MHz repeater, with attempts to reach Riverside County RACES.

Honda Center net control on HF, 2 meters (simplex and repeater), and 70 centimeters (Cactus) was operated from Control 7 and from stations provided by Scott Byington (OCRACES) and Gary Standard and Peter Putnam (Newport Beach Repeater Club/EmComm).

The MSEL had several tasks related to Winlink, starting with “Access the AUXC specific portal on Winlink.” Scott MacGillivray, KM6RTE, operated both a temporary RMS gateway and a portable Winlink Express client station from the City of Orange Amateur Radio (COAR, the city’s RACES unit) location of the Honda Center parking lot.

The exercise MSEL requested a demonstration of a mesh network, which was fulfilled by Mission Viejo RACES Member Don Hill, KE6BXT, who demonstrated an AREDN mesh network to communicate with Riverside County RACES via a node on Pleasants Peak in the Santa Ana Mountains east of Orange. He also communicated locally with Costa Mesa’s mobile communications vehicle (MCV), coordinating with MESAC’s Chief Radio Officer Patrick Williams, KJ6PFW, who also communicated via Winlink with Scott MacGillivray’s station.

RACES Runs Portable Exercise on May 1, 2021

On Saturday, May 1, 2021, OCRACES conducted a City/County RACES & MOU ACS Exercise. Because of concerns that emergency communications might be degraded or fail due to poor repeater coverage in some areas of the county, or due to possible repeater failure, this was a field-deployment exercise and focused on alternative means of communications in case of such repeater problems. These alternative means of communications consisted of simplex communications on 2 meters FM and Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS) on 60 meters. Relay stations were ready to assist net control with coverage. Net control was planned to be at a hilltop location in Orange or Anaheim Hills. However, at the last minute, Loma Ridge, which had been in a COVID lockdown for more than a year, suddenly became available for running the drill from the EOC RACES Room. OCRACES Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, and Joe Selikov, KB6EID, operated net control, while members of county and city RACES units were in the field testing simplex coverage on 146.595 MHz and propagation on 60 meters. The exercise simulated failure of all OCRACES repeaters and focused on finding reliable locations throughout Orange County for communicating with Loma Ridge and between cities. NVIS propagation was tested on 60 meters for countywide coverage, using the same frequency as the weekly 10:00 AM Saturday OCRACES nets on 5371.5 kHz upper sideband (dial frequency). Out-of-county stations assisted with relays on 60 meters.

This was an open exercise, with any radio amateur welcome to check in. This simulated conditions where we need to communicate with any station that has emergency traffic.

During the first 15 minutes of the exercise, all RACES and MOU units checked in their own members on their primary simplex frequencies. Joe Selikov, KB6EID, called a roll of OCRACES members on 146.595 MHz simplex, and 13 checked in: Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ; Joe Selikov, KB6EID (net control); Ken Tucker, WF6F; Tom Tracey, KC6FIC; Walter Kroy, KC6HAM; Ken Bourne, W6HK; Scott Byington, KC6MMF; Randy Benicky, N6PRL; Steve Livingston, NJ6R; Ray Grimes, N8RG; Fran Needham, KJ6UJS; Jack Barth, AB6VC; and Lee Kaser, KK6VIV. From 0915 to 1000 hours, Joe called the roll of city RACES and MOU units on 146.595 MHz, and asked each to report the number of its members who checked in on their primary simplex frequencies. Checking in were (with their checked-in members in parentheses): Anaheim (21), Brea (4), Costa Mesa (18), Cypress (6), Fountain Valley (5), Fullerton (4), Huntington Beach (12), Irvine (31), Laguna Niguel (9), Los Alamitos/Seal Beach (16), Mission Viejo (13), Orange (12), Westminster (2), American Red Cross (6), and OCHEART (11). There were 18 additional check-ins to OCRACES net control on 2 meters.

From 1000 to 1100 hours, Ken Bourne, W6HK, called a roll of city RACES units on 60 meters, with 35 total check-ins. Checking in were Anaheim, Brea, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Irvine, Laguna Woods, Mission Viejo, and Orange. Also checking in were Cal OES CRU in Cypress, Newport Beach Repeater Club, and OCHEART. Six OCRACES members checked in on 60 meters. Also checking in were Cal OES CRU in Campo (San Diego County), Ventura County ACS, Nye County ARES in Amargosa Valley, Nevada, and Nye County EmComm in Pahrump, Nevada. Eight visitors also participated.

Great ShakeOut Drill Held on October 15, 2020

OCRACES conducted an earthquake drill during the Great California ShakeOut on Thursday, October 15, 2020, from 1000 to 1100 hours. The drill allowed participants to practice reporting observed earthquake intensity using the Modified Mercalli Earthquake Intensity Scale. Net control (OCRACES Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK) asked participants to give their “Mike-Mike” reports on the 146.895 MHz repeater and on 60 meters channel 4, which is 5371.5 kHz USB (dial frequency).

A total of 30 County and City RACES and MOU members participated in this ShakeOut drill on 2 meters and five on 60 meters, all with simulated “Mike-Mike” reports. OCRACES members on 2 meters included Randy Benicky, N6PRL (Rancho Santa Margarita), Ken Bourne, W6HK (net control in Orange), Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ (Orange), and Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ (Fullerton). City RACES and MOU stations checking in and reporting on 2 meters included KJ6AOX (Laguna Niguel), KN6AVU (Placentia), KE6BNS (Huntington Beach), KF6BRC (Aliso Viejo), KG6CAV (Placentia), KB6CMO (Fullerton), KN6CVB (Laguna Woods), W6EDT (Mission Viejo), K6EEE (Laguna Woods), K6GAT (Huntington Beach), K6HIV (Rancho Santa Margarita), K6HMS (Huntington Beach), N6HVC (Westminster), AF6II (Garden Grove), KB6JOE (Huntington Beach), KE6KZR (Irvine), N6NQN (Fountain Valley), KK6OEX (Fountain Valley), KJ6PFW (Costa Mesa), KM6RSY (Rossmoor), WA6RUZ (Mission Viejo), KE6TM (Dana Point), KK6URR (Laguna Niguel), WB6VEM (Laguna Niguel), K6WHC (Mission Viejo), and KG6WTQ (Anaheim). The five stations on 60 meters included W6EDT (Mission Viejo), W6HK (net control in Orange), WB6NOA (Costa Mesa), K6PB (Irvine), and WA6DNT (Red Cross in San Diego).

Several City RACES units ran their own earthquake drills on October 15th, and so did Cal OES CRU, using the Cactus Radio Network. The California Rescue Communications 7250 kHz net commenced operations at 1030 hours, with 27 check-ins (Bay Area, local, Arizona, and Utah) with their MM reports.

Portable Simplex Drill Conducted on October 3, 2020

On Saturday, October 3, 2020, from 0900 to 1100 hours, we conducted a successful and enjoyable portable simplex drill as our annual first-Saturday-in-October City/County RACES & MOU ACS Exercise. City and County RACES and MOU members set up portable stations on their home property, since the COVID-19 pandemic prevented us from having any RACES activities outside our home property. We simulated that all repeaters had failed and conducted this drill on simplex frequencies and on 60 meters. During the first 15 minutes (beginning at 1900 hours), City RACES units and MOUs called a roll of their members on their primary simplex frequencies, while OCRACES net control (Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK) called the roll of its members on the OCRACES primary simplex frequency of 146.595 MHz. Beginning at 0915, the Chief Radio Officers or coordinators (or a designated member) of the City RACES units and MOUs moved over to 146.595 MHz and responded to a City/MOU roll call by OCRACES net control, with a report of how many of their members checked in on their primary simplex frequencies. Relay stations (especially Gordon West, WB6NOA, in Costa Mesa and others) assisted OCRACES net control in covering Cities in South County on 146.595 MHz.

Beginning at 1000 hours, Ken incorporated the Portable Drill into the normal Saturday morning 60-meter OCRACES ACS net on 5371.5 kHz USB (“channel 4” dial frequency). This net covers the 11 counties in the Cal OES Southern Region plus northern Arizona and southern Nevada. After calling the regular Saturday roll call of Orange County City and County RACES stations, net control stood by for additional RACES and MOU stations in Orange County. Relay stations such as WB6NOA in Costa Mesa and W6CAW in Campo (near the Mexican border), and N6WIX in Ventura assisted net control for covering various areas of Orange County. Net control then called the normal Saturday roll of RACES/ACS stations outside Orange County, followed by the non-EmComm stations.

On the 2-meter OCRACES roll call from 0900-0915 hours, OCRACES members checking in included KD6DAQ, WF6F (relayed by WB6NOA), W6HK (net control), N6PRL (relayed by WB6NOA), N2VAJ, and AB6VC. From 0915 to 0955 hours, City RACES and MOU units checking in included (by designated call sign and number of their check-ins on their primary simplex frequencies): Anaheim (KW6ACK—1), Brea (WB6DNX—6), Costa Mesa (KM6UJD—22), Cypress (KK6REB—5), Fountain Valley (WA6FV, relayed by WB6NOA—5), Fullerton (K6FUL—5), Huntington Beach (W6HBR and K6GAT—19), Irvine (KE6KYH—21), Laguna Niguel (WB6CKG—7), Laguna Woods (NH7WG—7), Los Alamitos (KM6RSY—16), Mission Viejo (W6EDT—9), Newport Beach (KB6FW and KM6JON—8), Orange (KG6MIG—13), Placentia (KG6CAV—6), Seal Beach (KM6RSY—16), Westminster (N6HVC, relayed by WB6NOA—5), American Red Cross (K6HMS and KK6YUP—5), OCHEART (KM6RSY—3), and Orange County SKYWARN (KK6YUP—4). Two OCRACES applicants also checked in—W6EIF and KK6HFS. Other 2-meter check-ins included WD6AJR (visitor), K6FTL (OCHEART), KB6KPK (visitor), K6BS (visitor), N6NQN (Fountain Valley RACES), and W6ONT (Cypress RACES).

On the 60-meter roll call from 1000 to 1100 hours, OCRACES members checking included WF6F, W6HK (net control), N6PRL (relayed by WB6NOA), and N2VAJ. Stations checking in from City RACES units included Anaheim KW6ACK), Brea (AI6ZN), Costa Mesa (WB6NOA), Cypress (W6ONT), Fountain Valley (KD6JBL), Huntington Beach (KJ6CM and W6HBR), Irvine (K6PB), Laguna Woods (K6EEE and NH7WG), Mission Viejo (W6EDT and N6JCN), Newport Beach (NI6E, KB6FW, K6GSX, and KM6JON), and Orange (KG6MIG and N0VNJ). Other RACES/EmComm check-ins included Cal OES CRU (W6GMU in Cypress and W6CAW in Campo, near the Mexican border), Ventura County ACS (N6WIX in Ventura), and Nye County (Nevada) EmComm (KE7KHE in Pahrump). Non-RACES/EmComm check-ins on 60 meters included WD6AJR and KB6KPK in Orange, WA6NFE near Escondido, K6ORJ mobile in Fresno, and W6YLD in Santa Maria.

Total participants during the first hour in the City and MOU primary simplex and County simplex nets was 196. During the second hour, the total participants on 60 meters was 31.

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.

To become an OCRACES member, you must first be a Sheriff’s Professional Services Responder (PSR, which is a non-sworn Reserve) or a Reserve Deputy Sheriff. PSR information may be found on this page on the Orange County Sheriff's website. Click on “Reserve Interest Form” in the left column. Then attend the next PSR Orientation followed by the PSR Prescreen. You can find the dates for those events by clicking “Reserve Testing & Orientation Dates” on the above web page. A background check will be conducted by the Sheriff’s Department. You must also attend three OCRACES meetings (online or in-person), in addition to passing the OCSD background for PSR, to become an OCRACES member.

OCRACES members need to have a dual-band radio to access our 2-meter and 70-centimeter repeaters. Members are also required to pass the IS-100, -200, -700, and -800 courses, which may be found on the FEMA website at https://training.fema.gov/is/crslist.aspx.

Click the Contact OCRACES link for more information.

Events Calendar

October 18: 1900 hours
2 m: Don Mikami, N6EOD

October 21: 1000-1100 hours
Great California ShakeOut Drill

October 23: 1000 hours
60 m channel 4

October 25: 1900 hours
2 m/70 cm/1¼ m/6 m:
Fran Needham, KJ6UJS

October 30: 1000 hours
60 m channel 4

November 1: 1900 hours
2 m: Joe Selikov, KB6EID

November 1: 1930 hours
OCRACES Online Meeting

November 6: 1000 hours
60 m channel 4

November 8: 1900 hours
2 m: Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ

November 13: 1000 hours
60 m channel 4

November 15: 1900 hours
2 m: Chuck Streitz, KK6HFS

November 20: 1000 hours
60 m channel 4

November 22: 1900 hours
2 m/70 cm/1¼ m/6 m:
Ken Tucker, WF6F

November 25
Happy Thanksgiving!

November 27: 1000 hours
60 m channel 4

November 29: 1900 hours
2 m: Jack Barth, AB6VC