Huntington Beach Fire Department - 911 Shadow Drill
On Saturday May 6th 2023, Huntington Beach RACES (HBRACES) was activated to perform an (annual) 8 hour "shadow drill" with Huntington Beach Fire Department (HBFD). This was a failure simulation of the Orange County 800 MHz fire dispatch system. Over 20 HBRACES members were deployed to Huntington Beach Emergency Operations Center 911 dispatch (EOC), Fire Dispatch Operations Center (FDOC) and an assigned member on each apparatus/vehicle at every fire station within the City.
The day started with the HBRACES Chief Radio Officer, Jon Welfringer (WB6OZD) being notified by the City that HBRACES has been activated to provide dispatch and tactical communications because of an 800 MHz system failure. Welfringer then activated HBRACES members by utilizing the AlertOC (reverse 911) system to perform the call out. Assistant Chief Radio Officer, Greg Turlis (K6GAT), was first on site at the FDOC and immediately established net control operations on the HBRACES (W6HBR) 2 meter repeater. HBRACES members checked in to net control to signify that they were en route to their pre-assigned stations. When HBRACES members arrived at the stations, they checked in with the station Captain for their apparatus assignment and with the assistance of the apparatus engineer, quickly moved to add a mobile antenna to each vehicle. Once their equipment was in place, HBRACES members checked back in to net control to alert them of their operational status using a tactical call sign that matched their apparatus assignment.
At the EOC, HBRACES members monitored the 911 calls and logged all fire related emergencies. Utilizing the HBRACES 70cm repeater system, the EOC 911 dispatch communicated these calls to the HBRACES FDOC dispatch where the calls were logged and given to the HBFD personnel. HBFD Division Chief Marty Ortiz would then make the decision as to which apparatus should be deployed to each call. FDOC dispatch communicated the call on the 2 meter net to the required HBRACES field members via their tactical call signs. HBRACES members conveyed the call to their local station captain and apparatus crew. HBRACES members also communicated back to net control for any changes in apparatus available/unavailable status, en route or on-scene status as well as changes in ALS/BLS capability status so the FDOC Division Chief could accurately track his available assets.
During the drill period, HBRACES dispatched 27 calls through the EOC to the FDOC and finally to the appropriate station/apparatus. During this shadow drill, the 911 dispatch process was still being handled normally at MetroNet with apparatus dispatch being handled by computer algorithm. The drill is not only a training and testing of the HBRACES members ability to communicate, but also a test of HBFD’s ability to adequately dispatch and track their required apparatus. It was a very successful day with both HBRACES and HBFD being able to communicate and coordinate the HBFD assets in a crisis situation.
Huntington Beach RACES provides several important communications related functions for the Pacific Airshow. Their responsibilities include general safety awareness as additional "eyes and ears" in the crowds, providing health and welfare communications for the CERT first aid tents and providing direct show communications links from both John Wayne airport and the Joint Forces Training Base Los Alamitos to the air boss located on the beach. Over 20 RACES members participate each day of the show providing vital communications links.
City/County RACES & MOU ACS Exercise
Huntington Beach RACES participates in Orange County's City/County RACES & MOU Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) Exercises. These exercises are a simulation of local repeater communications failure and the ability to establish backup communications. This is a field-deployment exercise and focuses on alternative means of communications in case of repeater problems. During a recent exercise, HB RACES members Greg Turlis (K6GAT), Jon Welfringer (WB6OZD), Jim Hansen(KG6ZDP) and Roy Hodak (W6OGR) setup in Bartlet Park in Huntington Beach to test operations on 2m & 70cm simplex, HF 60m band and WinLink (Radio/PC packet data).
Our HB RACES members tested their abilities to establish simplex communication into the OC RACES Command Center located on Loma Ridge. Members were able to successfully contact OC RACES Command Center and other local RACES units on the established simplex frequencies. In addition to testing communications to Loma Ridge, this was also a test of the capabilities of the RACES units to interoperate with each other on simplex and pass emergency traffic if the local repeaters failed during a disaster.
4th of July Parade
If you've attended the 4th of July Parade, the Airshow or other large HB events, you know that cell phone communications quickly become a problem when thousands of people gather in the same area. HB RACES mobilizes to provide radio communications throughout the 2+ mile footprint of the complete parade route. Their responsibilities include general safety awareness as additional "eyes and ears" in the crowds and providing health and welfare communications for the CERT first aid stations. Approximately 30 RACES members participate in the single day event providing critical communications during both the early morning marathon on the parade route and the actual parade itself.
Disaster Preparedness Expo
Huntington Beach RACES members participate in the Disaster Preparedness Expo usually held at the Huntington Beach Central Library. This event is organized by the City's office of Emergency Managment and Homeland Security. It includes participation from several of the cities emergency services organizations including HBFD, HBPD, CERT, Marine Safety, HB Explorers and RACES. In addition, several supporting organizations attend including the American Red Cross, So. Cal Edison, So. Cal Gas Co., National Weather Service and SCART (Surf City Animal Response Team).
The Disaster Preparedness Expo is an annual event where the City’s emergency services organizations get an opportunity to educate the public about emergency preparedness and the possible disasters that can strike the city of Huntington Beach. While demonstrations and education are the primary purposes, it is also a great time for RACES to reach out to citizens and explain how they can also get involved in helping the city.
HBPD Open House
National Night Out
ARRL Field Day
Huntington Beach RACES members practice their emergency radio communications skills in a nation-wide drill called “Field Day”. Held every year in June, this event is located on the bluffs at PCH and Golden West. The public is also invited to come try their hand at getting on the air. During Field Day, amateur radio operators from the US and Canada compete over a 24 hour period to make global contacts with other hams. This is done with the goal of demonstrating portable and completely independent radio communications.
Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay
Baker to Vegas is a 120 mile relay race starting in Baker, CA and ending in Las Vegas NV. The Huntington Beach Police Department has participated in the relay race for over 25 years. The police department has many sponsors and volunteer groups that help out in this event each year, including HB RACES.
HB RACES has supported the police department for the last 25 years by providing vital radio communications from the start line to the finish line. Every year at least 20 RACES members help out by providing communications to relay race headquarters in Las Vegas on the current status of each runner in each stage. RACES also provides information between each stage and with the support van. With little or no cell phone coverage in the desert Ham Radio is a vital way of communicating between each stage to ensure the runner is ready for the relay hand off. Manny Vizinho (KG6IQL) has been involved with organizing HB RACES involvement with the police department for the last several years. The HBPD has been extremely grateful for HB RACES supporting the race with vital ham radio communications. For more information about Baker to Vegas please visit their Website at www.bakervegas.net
Surf City Marathon
The Surf City Marathon is usually the first event of the year for Huntington Beach RACES members to put on their volunteer schedule. HB RACES mobilizes a team of 30+ communicators to staff net control stations, med tents, sag wagons, roving bicycles and multiple waypoints along the marathon route. HB RACES members provide a critical role in monitoring the health and welfare of runners, spotting, and reporting incidents, and communicating the status of leading and trailing runners along the course.
Like most large events where HB RACES provides communications, there are two nets running on the local HB RACES repeaters. One on 70cm covering communications for med tents and sag wagons and a second net on 2m covering roving bicycles and course stationed members. APRS is used to track the sag wagons and roving bicycles to efficiently deploy them to needed locations. Net control is co-located with public safety to effectively communicate reported issues between them.
Some years prove a little more challenging than usual with the event taking place rain or shine. Pictured below during a rainstorm, the HB RACES members came prepared for the weather and were able to execute their duties without issue.
Surf City Triathlon
A new event for 2018, the Surf City Triathlon enlists the help of HB RACES to perform communications along the route, much like that performed at the marathon. RACES provides a critical role in monitoring the health and welfare of contestants and spotting incidents by manning the fluid stations, medical tents, SAG wagons and designated monitoring locations. Additionally, RACES helps to communicate status for lead contestants as well as trailing contestants ensuring the entire triathlon route is checked for any missing contestants and is clear before any roads are reopened to vehicles.
US Islands Awards Program - Qualification of Trinidad Island
May 12, 2018
Members of W6HBR setup a mobile communications station in French Park on Trinidad Island. While not an official HB RACES event, this is a great example of how RACES members spend their personal time practicing their HAM radio skills.
The purpose of the exercise was to make a minimum number of radio contacts in various modes to qualify Trinidad Island as a US island location that could later be used for participation in events for the US Islands Awards Program. Operations for the day were performed under the W6O special events call sign. (See additional details on our August 25 event listed above).
US Islands Awards Program QSO Party - Trinidad Island
August 25, 2018
US Islands Awards Program (USI) is an amateur radio award program centered around chasing and activating river, lake and ocean shore islands within the 50 United States and its Territories and Protectorates. In May of 2018, Team W6HBR successfully activated Trinidad Island In Huntington Harbor using the special event call sign W6O for the purpose of competing in this event. USI is an annual contest that takes place the last weekend of August.
Team W6HBR setup 4 stations running on generator power. Roy (W6OGR) worked phone(voice) 20m/40m bands, Jon (WB6OZD) worked digital mode (FT8), William (K6WHP) worked CW (Morse code) on all bands while BIll (K6HMS) and Greg (K6GAT) worked phone (voice) on 10m/6m bands. Band conditions were not the best that day, with the group only making 23 contacts during the contest. This event is another way to share with the public on the use of Amateur Radio in event of disaster. For information on USI visit their website at http://usislands.org/