County of Orange (California)
Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service

Orange County Sheriff's Department
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 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 Meetings and Outside Group Activities Canceled

Because of the COVID-19 emergency, all OCRACES outside group activities have been canceled until further notice. OCRACES meetings will be held online on first Mondays at 7:30 PM. Monday night 2-meter nets at 7:00 PM and Saturday morning 60-meter nets at 10:00 AM will continue. No RACES members are to enter the Loma Ridge facility at this time, nor engage in any RACES activities outside the home.

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.

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

FEMA has a website at https://www.fema.gov/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 Activates Severe Fire Weather Patrols

October 2019 was that time of year when the Santa Ana winds began to blow, the humidity dropped, and potential wildland fires threatened. The National Weather Service issued 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. The Severe Fire Weather Patrols were active on October 10th and 11th, October 24th, and October 30th. Some city RACES units also conducted fire patrols in October.

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.

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

June 1: 1900 hours
2 m: Don Mikami, N6ELD

June 1: 1930 hours
OCRACES Online Meeting

June 8: 1900 hours
2 m: Fran Needham, KJ6UJS

June 8: 1930 hours

City/County RACES & MOU Meeting CANCELED

June 15: 1900 hours
2 m: Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ

June 22: 1900 hours
2 m/70 cm/6 m: Joe Selikov, KB6EID

June 29: 1900 hours
2 m: Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ

July 6: 1900 hours
2 m: Tom Tracey, KC6FIC

July 6: 1930 hours
OCRACES Online Meeting

July 13: 1900 hours
2 m: Ken Tucker, WF6F

July 20: 1900 hours
2 m: Tom Wright, KJ6SPE

July 27: 1900 hours
2 m/70 cm/6 m: Jack Barth, AB6VC