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 Online and In-Person Meetings and Group Activities

OCRACES has resumed outside group activities. Online OCRACES meetings have been well-attended during the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue online monthly meetings, interspersed with in-person meetings, perhaps quarterly. Monday night 2-meter nets at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday morning 60-meter nets at 10:00 a.m. will continue (except for some major holidays).

OCRACES Participates in Field Day on June 22, 2024

Left photo: Ryan Moore, KN6WSJ (left), and Robert Moore, KW6B, at their VHF/UHF FM station.
Center photo: Ted Lavino, KG6LZP, at his HF/VHF/UHF SSB/digital station.
Right photo: Steve Livingston, NJ6R, at his HF SSB/digital and VHF Winlink station.

OCRACES participated in Field Day on Saturday, June 22, 2024, in the parking lot of the Orange County Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy in Tustin. Ryan Moore, KN6WSJ, was the coordinator of the event, and configured it to be more of an emergency communications field exercise rather than competing contest-style in the nationwide ARRL event. He consulted with OCSD Sergeant Nate Beyer to promote the event and OCRACES with the PSRs in the Mutual Aid Bureau, and to arrange for E-Z Ups for protection from the sun. Ryan also prepared a flyer for handout to visiting Department personnel.

Three stations were set up for Field Day. One was by Ryan and his dad, Robert Moore, KW6B, on 2 meters and 70 centimeters FM. Ted Lavino, KG6LZP, made voice and data connections on 40 meters and Winlink on 2 meters and 70 centimeters. Steve Livingston ran voice and digital on HF and Winlink on VHF.

Also attending were RACES PSRs Randy Benicky, N6PRL, Ken Bourne, W6HK, Scott Byington, KC6MMF, and Jason Ho, KJ6VSV.

City/County RACES & EmComm Drill Held on May 4, 2024

Ryan Moore, KN6WSJ (left), operates 2 meters simplex; Robert Moore, KW6B (center), operates 60 meters; and Scott MacGillivray, KM6RTE (right), operates Winlink during May 4, 2024, drill.

A City/County RACES & EmComm ACS Drill was held on Saturday, May 4, 2024, from 0900 to 1130 hours. Communications were on 2 meters simplex (simulating repeater failure), 60 meters SSB, and Winlink. Some City RACES units also were active on AREDN mesh during the drill. OCRACES PSRs operated net control at the Orange County EOC at Loma Ridge, including Ryan Moore, KN6WSJ, on 146.595 MHz simplex, Robert Moore, KW6B on 5371.5 kHz upper sideband, and Scott MacGillivray on Winlink. Overseeing the activity was Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK. Other participating OCRACES members, checking in via 2 meters, included Assistant Radio Officer Randy Benicky, N6PRL, Ted Lavino, KG6LZP, Ryan Moore, KN6WSJ, Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, Chi Nguyen, KE6MVS, Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ, and Ken Tucker, WF6F. Steve Livingston, NJ6R, as well as N6PRL and WF6F, checked in on 60 meters.

City RACES units calling into OCRACES net control on 146.595 MHz simplex included Anaheim, Brea, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Orange, Seal Beach/Los Alamitos, Tri-Cities (Dana Point, San Clemente, and San Juan Capistrano), and Westminster. EmComm units included American Red Cross, Newport Beach Repeater Club, and OCHEART. Whittier also checked in (LACDCS).

Checking in on 60 meters were City RACES units and members: Anaheim (K6GRO), Fountain Valley (WA6FV), Irvine (K6PB), Laguna Woods (AJ6VT and NH7WG), Los Alamitos/Seal Beach (KU6H), and Orange (K0VNJ), as well as Cal OES CRU (NJ6U). Three visitors from Orange also checked in (WD6AJR, K6BS, and N2VAJ).

The scenario for this drill was civil unrest, disrupting public order to the extent that a countywide emergency had been declared, requiring auxiliary communications to be provided to county and city law-enforcement agencies. Some of the simulated reports received by OCRACES net control from OCRACES members and City RACES units included: freeway shutdown near Euclid Street in Fullerton by protesters (reported by Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ); a mall in Huntington Beach lost power, while people with hats and masks were looting (reported by Chi Nguyen, KE6MVS); utility water supplies were unreliable and cyberattacks in Dana Point; I-405 was blocked in both directions in Fullerton and all power was shut down; a large group of protesters and internet outages were in Costa Mesa; a power failure occurred in Brea (real!) and there was unrest at the Brea Mall with many people (scenario); the Westminster Police Department lost power and was operating on backup, while suspicious people were at Bella Terra Mall; protesters were crossing a bridge from Costa Mesa to Huntington Beach (reported by American Red Cross), Laguna Woods had scattered power outages; there was civil unrest in Whittier with storm troopers storming the police station, followed by zombies (!); there were looting and rioters around Fullerton; and two guys in fatigue clothes were in Aliso Viejo, with a black rifle bag and camouflage gun bag (reported by Randy Benicky, N6PRL).

Scott MacGillivray, KM6RTE, reported the Winlink portion of the drill had the highest message traffic and operator participation since Winlink was incorporated into the countywide ACS drill in May 2022. A total number of 122 messages were received and sent during the 24 hours allocated to Winlink. Using Winlink Express, 48 messages had an attached Field Situation Report. A testing goal was to determine if there were any operational VHF packet Winlink RMS gateways reachable from San Clemente. The KM6SLF-12 RMS in Dana Point was accessible from all eight locations. Connection with the KM6RTE-12 RMS at Loma Ridge was successful from seven of the eight locations.

Earthquake Drill on October 19, 2023, Has 34 Check-ins

On Thursday, October 19, 2023, the Great California ShakeOut officially occurred at 10:19 a.m. In conjunction with this event, OCRACES conducted an earthquake drill that day from 1000 to 1100 hours, simulating a strong earthquake striking Orange County. Net control asked for locations and observation reports from participants in county and city RACES and EmComm units via the 146.895 MHz repeater and via Winlink. Simulated reports were given as “Mike-Mike” intensities, using the USGS Modified Mercalli Earthquake Intensity Scale. The drill had 34 check-ins.

OCRACES Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, operated ShakeOut net control from the EOC RACES Room at Loma Ridge. OCRACES members checking in with Mike-Mike reports and observations throughout Orange County included: Heide Aguirre, K3TOG; Assistant Radio Officer Randy Benicky, N6PRL; Joel Bishop, AJ6ZP; Steve Livingston, NJ6R; Scott MacGillivray, KM6RTE (also for COAR); Robert Moore, KW6B; Ryan Moore, KN6WSJ; Chi Nguyen, KE6MVS; Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ; and Ken Tucker, WF6F.

Members of several City RACES units checking into OCRACES net control included Brea RACES, W6BRE. For Costa Mesa RACES (MESAC): Ashley Fisher, KM6UJD; and Don Haddock, KN6QDV. For Fountain Valley RACES: Ken Hemkin, KK6OEX; and Garry Jones, N6NQN. Fullerton RACES, K6FUL. For Irvine RACES (IDEC): Pete Bergstrom, K6PB; Avram Grossman, KN6BMO; and Steve Skwarlo, WB6CJH. For Laguna Niguel ACS (WE6ACS): David Black, WB6VEM; Kevin Korff, KK6KUR; Marlene Ruderman, KN6USQ; and Haney Williams, KJ6JIA (in Anaheim). For Laguna Woods RACES: Bruce Bonbright, NH7WG. For Mission Viejo RACES-ARES: Cher Baker, K6CHR; Scott Holcomb, K6WHC; and Phil Lonzello, WA6LDI. For Placentia RACES: Duke Walls, W6EIF (in Yorba Linda). For Westminster RACES: Adam Valek, N6HVC. Other EmComm check-ins included: Gary Standard, K6GSX, for Newport Beach Repeater Club; Robert Gimbel, KG6WTQ, for American Red Cross; and David Gorin, KB6BXQ, for OCHEART. Carlos Adams, KE6QEU, checked in from Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach.

City/County RACES & EmComm Drill Held on October 7, 2023

Joel Bishop, AJ6ZP (left), operates 2 meters simplex; Robert Moore, KW6B (center), operates 60 meters; and Scott MacGillivray, KM6RTE (right) operates Winlink during October 7, 2023, drill.

A City/County RACES & EmComm ACS Drill occurred on Saturday, October 7, 2023, from 0900 to 1200 hours for the simplex portion. Conducting operations from the Orange County EOC at Loma Ridge were OCRACES Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, with Joel Bishop, AJ6ZP, on 2 meters and Robert Moore, KW6B, on 60 meters. Scott MacGillivray, KM6RTE, handled the Winlink portion of the drill.

The scenario for this drill was a series of cyberattacks that disabled major infrastructures, including power and gas utilities, water and wastewater facilities, telephone companies, cable systems and internet service providers, hospital networks, banks and other financial institutions, law-enforcement and other government administrative systems, transportation systems, dams, education, and postal and shipping services. In addition, all repeaters had failed, and all communications were on simplex frequencies.

Communications consisted of simplex communications on 2 meters FM and HF NVIS (Near Vertical Incidence Skywave) on 60 meters. OCRACES net control operated from the Orange County EOC. Most City and County RACES and EmComm members operated portable stations at locations that needed to be tested for local and countywide simplex radio coverage.

The simplex drill ran from 0900 to 1200 hours. On 2 meters, the first hour was devoted to communicating with each RACES unit’s own members on their primary simplex frequency. Check-ins included simulated emergencies and requests for resources. The remaining two hours were for communications between OCRACES and city net controls on 146.595 MHz, while city RACES and EmComm members continued to call their net controls for urgent resources.

From 0900 to 1000 hours, OCRACES members checking in on 2 meters included Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ, Ken Tucker, WF6F, Chi Nguyen, KE6MVS, Ron Mosher, K0PGE, Randy Benicky, N6PRL, and Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, as well as OCSD Emergency Management Division Deputy Director Lee Kaser, KK6VIV, who was driving through the canyons and checking coverage. At 1000 hours, RACES units from Anaheim, Brea, Costa Mesa (MESAC), Tri-Cities (Dana Point, San Clemente, and San Juan Capistrano), Fountain Valley, Mission Viejo, and Orange, as well as the Newport Beach Repeater Club, checked into OCRACES and gave their reports of check-ins during the previous hour. Gordon West, WB6NOA (MESAC) reported that 50 gallons of fuel were needed at the Costa Mesa Fire Station.

The 60-meter net occurred on 5371.5 kHz upper sideband. At first, net control used the same roll call of Orange County City and County RACES and EmComm stations as on the Saturday morning OCRACES ACS net. Check-ins included: Dale Tyler, W6EDT, for Mission Viejo RACES; Gary Standard, K6GSX, and Roy Shlemon, K6GVG, for Newport Beach Repeater Club; Gordon West, WB6NOA, for Costa Mesa RACES (MESAC); Garry Jones, N6NQN, for Fountain Valley RACES; Pete Bergstrom, K6PB, for Irvine RACES (IDEC); Steve Livingston, NJ6R for OCRACES; Bruce Bonbright, NH7WG, for Laguna Woods RACES; Bill Kreutinger, KM6SLF, for Tri-Cities RACES; and Paul Gussow, NJ6U (Cypress), and Craig Williams, W6CAW (Campo, San Diego County), for Cal OES Communications Reserve Unit. Non-EmComm stations included Neil Smith, K6KWI (Anaheim Hills), and Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ (Orange).

In the Winlink portion of the drill, messages were accepted over a 24-hour period, from 1500 hours on Friday to 1500 hours on Saturday. Participanting operators totaled 26. Information was requested about the Winlink operator’s role in their city or EmComm organization that they were participating on behalf of. In total, 13 organizations were represented and the operators identified a total 29 instances of membership with these organizations.

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.

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?lang=en. 

Click the Contact OCRACES link for more information.

Events Calendar

July 4: Independence Day

July 6: 1000 hours
60 meters channel 4

July 8: 1900 hours
Robert Moore, KW6B

July 13: 1000 hours
60 meters channel 4

July 15: 1900 hours
Ryan Moore, KN6WSJ

July 20: 1000 hours
60 meters channel 4

July 22: 1900 hours
2 m/70 cm/1¼ m/6 m:
Fran Needham, KJ6UJS

July 27: 1000 hours
60 meters channel 4

July 29: 1900 hours
2 m: Ron Mosher, K0PGE

August 3: 1000 hours
60 meters channel 4

August 5: 1900 hours
2 m: Chi Nguyen, KE6MVS

August 5: 1930 hours

August 10: 1000 hours
60 meters channel 4

August 12: 1900 hours
2 m: Joe Selikov, KB6EID

August 17: 1000 hours
60 meters channel 4

August 19: 1900 hours
2 m: Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ

August 24: 1000 hours
60 meters channel 4

August 26: 1900 hours
2 m/70 cm/1¼ m/6 m:
Ken Tucker, WF6F