County of Orange (California)
Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service

Orange County Sheriff's Department
Technology Division

Home County/City/MOU Units Links Van Newsletters Net Assignments Mission Statement Member Expectations Baker to Vegas Winlink Visual Communications Emergency Supplies DC Connector
What Are ACS and RACES? FCC RACES Rules Contact Employment Volunteer Protection Act Forms

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.

RACES Runs Portable Drill on May 2, 2020

A City/County RACES & MOU Portable Drill was held on Saturday, May 2, 2020. Because RACES activities outside home property were prohibited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most participants operated portable stations from their backyards, using battery power and portable antennas. OCRACES Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, was net control, operating from his home station in Orange. The drill simulated that the OCRACES repeaters were down, and had two segments, the first hour on 2 meters simplex and the second hour on 60 meters upper sideband, "channel 4."

Ken began the Portable Drill on 2 meters simplex at 0900 hours by calling for check-ins from cities in alphabetical order, then from MOUs, and finally from OCRACES members. Relay stations were assigned, to enable handheld and other low-power stations to check in. Participating units (members) on 2 meters included OCRACES (9), Brea RACES (3), Costa Mesa RACES (8), Cypress RACES (1), Fountain Valley RACES (2), Huntington Beach RACES (3), Irvine RACES (7), Laguna Niguel ACS (6), Laguna Woods RACES (3), Los Alamitos RACES (1), Mission Viejo RACES (8), Newport Beach RACES (3), Orange RACES (3), Placentia RACES (1), Westminster RACES (1), American Red Cross (2), and OCHEART (9).

Beginning at 1000 hours, Ken incorporated the Portable Drill into the normal Saturday morning 60-meter OCRACES ACS net. Portable stations typically used Hamstick dipoles and end-fed wires, and ran on battery power. Participating units (members) on 60 meters included OCRACES (5), Brea RACES (1), Costa Mesa RACES (1), Cypress RACES (1), Irvine RACES (1), Laguna Woods RACES (1), Mission Viejo RACES (1), Newport Beach RACES (5), Orange RACES (2), Cal OES CRU (2), OCHEART (2), Ventura County ACS (1) Nye County NV EmComm (1), and non-EmComm stations (4).

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.

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

October 12: 1900 hours
2 m: Don Mikami, N6ELD

October 15: 1000-1030 hours
Great ShakeOut Drill
2 m and 60 m

October 17: 1000 hours
60 m channel 4

October 19: 1900 hours
2 m: Fran Needham, KJ6UJS

October 24: 1000 hours
60 m channel 4

October 26: 1900 hours
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m: Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ

October 31: 1000 hours
60 m channel 4

November 2: 1900 hours
2 m: Bob McFadden, KK6CUS

November 2: 1930 hours
OCRACES Online Meeting

November 7: 1000 hours
60 m channel 4

November 9: 1900 hours
2 m: Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ

November 14: 1000 hours
60 m channel 4

November 16: 1900 hours
2 m: Tom Tracey, KC6FIC

November 21: 1000 hours
60 m channel 4

November 23: 1900 hours
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m: Ken Tucker, WF6F

November 28: 1000 hours
60 m channel 4

November 30: 1900 hours
2 m: Tom Wright, KJ6SPE