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.

ATV at Next OCRACES Meeting: October 5th

The next OCRACES Meeting is on Monday, October 5, 2015. Our featured speaker will be Roger Berchtold, WB6HMW, talking about amateur television. He will mention the 5-watt 434 MHz ATV transmitter he built in 1972, while using a battery-powered UHF converter as the front end. He will also describe the equipment he is using now to communicate through the W6ATN ATV repeater. Roger will give recommendations on how to get started in ATV.

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 be Jack Clough, KK6VNB. He will transmit on the input of the OCRACES 2-meter repeater, and hunters will compare bearings on another frequency. The hiding place will be in the City of Orange. 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.

"Reporting Emergencies" at November 2nd OCRACES Meeting

Chris Storey, KA6WNK, will give a presentation on "Reporting Emergencies" at the November 2nd OCRACES meeting at 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, in Orange. You will learn how observant citizens and trained emergency communicators can become the vital first link in the public-safety chain when they witness and emergency event in the field or in the home. You will learn how to get the right information to the right public-safety agency in a timely and organized manner. Emphasis is placed on personnel safety when reporting hazardous situations or criminal activity. The presentation also discusses the various tools used to summon emergency assistance, and how best to use them.

Chris is a 19-year veteran Public Response Dispatcher for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Licensed over 30 years, the majority of his amateur radio operations are focused on emergency and public service, including Navy-Marine Corps MARS, the federal SHAred RESources High Frequency radio program, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, CERT, and the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary.

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.

October 5: 1900
2 m: Tom Wright, KJ6SPE
Pager: Tom Tracey, KC6FIC

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

October 10: 0800-1700
ARRL "Introduction to Emergency Communications (EC-001)" (Part 1), OC Red Cross Chapter Office, Santa Ana

October 12: 1900
2 m: Jeff Yost, KE7EWG
Pager: Jack Barth, AB6VC

October 12: 1920
Cooperative T-Hunt

October 15: 1015
Great California ShakeOut

October 17: 0800-1700
ARRL "Introduction to Emergency Communications (EC-001)" (Part 2), OC Red Cross Chapter Office, Santa Ana

October 18: 1130-1600
OCSD Reserve Bureau BBQ, Irvine Lake

October 19: 1900
2 m: John Bedford, KF6PRN
Pager: Ken Bourne, W6HK

October 24: 1000-1500
OCFA Open House
1 Fire Authority Road, Irvine

October 26: 1900
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m: Randy Benicky, N6PRL
Pager: Scott Byington, KC6MMF

November 2: 1900
2 m: Roger Berchtold, WB6HMW
Pager: Ernest Fierheller, KG6LXT

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

November 9: 1900
2 m: Bill Borg, KG6PEX
Pager: Bob McFadden, KK6CUS

November 9: 1920
Cooperative T-Hunt

November 16: 1900
2 m: Ken Bourne, W6HK
Pager: Harvey Packard, KM6BV

November 17
Muti-Agency Regional Radio Interoperability Training Exercise (MARRITE)

November 23: 1900
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m: Scott Byington, KC6MMF
Pager: Tom Tracey, KC6FIC

November 30: 1900
2 m: David Corsiglia, WA6TWF
Pager: Jack Barth, AB6VC