County of Orange (California)
Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service

Orange County Sheriff's Department
Emergency Management Division

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The need to transmit any volume of information during an incident can be critical. Accuracy and speed by which this information travels can certainly become a factor in a positive resolution to the incident; lives and property loss are paramount to the citizens of Orange County.

Winlink gives us a tool to augment Orange County's extensive communications arsenal. This program allows email to be transmitted via amateur radio in a compressed mode, saving crucial time. This system has the ability to work from any point on the planet. Operation of the Winlink system does not require extensive amateur radio knowledge to operate.

Winlink Express is the preferred Winlink radio email client because it supports all new system features, and it is the only client supporting the Winlink Hybrid Network for email delivery with or without the internet. Winlink Express is designed to be easily used by single users with a single call sign, but it may also be used to simultaneously send and receive mail with one or two more tactical addresses or alternate Winlink accounts. Attachments of photographs, spreadsheets, and Microsoft Word documents are compatible with this system.

In configuring a Winlink system for use at an Incident Command Post, a local area network can easily be established with a router and personal laptops. This system can be extended using other common network technologies such as WiFi.  Each laptop can be operated by IC personnel without the need for an amateur radio license. The only person requiring the license is the operator of the initial Winlink system, consisting of a radio and modem. This initial laptop system is therefore used as a bridge to a router, sharing e-mail access to the rest of the IC personnel.

OCRACES established three UHF Winlink internet gateways throughout Orange County in 2005. Those gateways are currently off the air, pending network modifications. Meanwhiile, several RACES units throughout Orange County have established other VHF and UHF gateways.

The surrounding areas of Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego Counties also participate in Winlink.

HF, VHF, and UHF Winlink stations are now in operation at the Orange County EOC.

A list of other government agencies using Winlink is available online at https://winlink.org/.