On October 19, 2023, team members from the Seal Beach/Los Alamitos RACES organization conducted an extensive City Wide Emergency Training Exercise (Earthquake) as part of the State and County wide disaster preparedness exercise. Fifteen members of the combined City Team simulated an area by area view of the “disaster” as it affected both cities. As each Amateur reported a fictional description of “damage” and “Injury” needs to Net Control Operators located in each City, “This is a Drill” was the ringing announcement via Amateur Radio. Net Control captured the Emergency Traffic and simulated forwarding the need messages to Incident Commanders within each Emergency Operation Center. Amateurs used a method of describing the Earthquakes impacts in various areas using a Charting Scale termed the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale from MM1 (not Mapped) to MM10 (Extreme Damage).
Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES – pronounced “RAY-sees”) was created in 1951 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC Part 97, Section 407) primarily to serve in civil defense emergencies to provide essential communications and warnings to supplement State and local governments.
The program is endorsed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). RACES is a public service that provides communications personnel to government agencies in times of extraordinary need. During periods of activation, RACES personnel are called upon to perform many tasks for the government agencies they serve. Although the exact nature of each activation will be different, the common thread is communications.
RACES Seal Beach/Los Alamitos is locally administered by the Emergency Services Coordinator within each of the two Cities. County Wide RACES is administered by the Orange County Sheriff Department. The recent wildfire tragedy in Maui and the hurricane hitting the Mexican resort city of Acapulco both continue to be examples of how important Amateur Radio is for both Health and Welfare traffic and local emergency communication. Amateurs use a plethora of communication tools supported by battery operated equipment including portable generators and solar panels to provide electrical energy allowing important message traffic to continue. In Seal Beach extensive Amateur equipment uses the roof top of the Boeing Building to house antennas and Repeating Stations which have been modified to withstand an 8.0 Earthquake. The RACES Mantra is “When All Else Fails”. Even with landline, cellular phones and other communication devices history tell us that they do and have failed.
RACES members “drill” in order to be prepared.