ROARS Emergency Communications Plan

This page is for our plans and guidance on how Ramona Hams should communicate in an emergency - from your home or vehicle or assisting others.  

Ramona is so central to the entire county there is much we might offer assistance with, or need to call for assistance if our normal communications are cut off.


PURPOSE:  To provide a communications plan and recommended frequencies to provide the most effective emergency communications possible throughout Ramona and the surrounding rural areas.

AREA OF COVERAGE:  Ramona and surrounding rural area extending north to Palomar and east through Julian to Ranchita and the Lagunas.  (Our coverage area is focused on rural country from Mt Woodson and east.  The city & suburbs have different needs and capabilities.)

PARTICIPANTS:  ROARS members, and certainly any others in need.  Participants should be able to use the ROARS Ramona repeater.  Other repeaters may be swamped or off the air.


Local emergencies - and our likely emergency communications plans - will likely fall into one of three categories, listed here from least to most significant.

1.       SEVERE STORM (least impact)

Ramona area weather issues are most likely from significant rain, wind or possible lightning and impacts are usually localized with flooding, mud slides, road closures and perhaps individual family assistance.  These challenges are exactly the issues addressed by the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Skywarn system of Ham spotters.  Trained spotters have a prearranged way to report all significant issues via VHF repeater to the base station in the NWS headquarters.  From there information is disseminated by the NWS to the media or first responders as needed. 

ROARS EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS PLAN (1) – If there is a severe weather event, Skywarn will notify certified spotters to report events on either the ECRA Palomar repeater 147.030(+)103.5 (Primary) or San Diego County RACES 147.195(+)114.8 (Secondary. Use only when ECRA Palomar isn't reachable!).  ROARS members should consider becoming certified NWS spotters and use the existing and documented Skywarn processes.  See our page dedicated to Skywarn

2.       MAJOR FIRE (Significant impact)

As we know, back-country fires can quickly become huge and deadly.  The two main services it seems ROARS members could offer are fire spotting (from a safe location) and aid in your local evacuation conditions (blocked road, accidents, alternate routes, etc.).  The need for this is largely driven by any failures or gaps in cellular or Cal Fire communications systems.  Determining exactly what amateur radio communications are needed is likely dynamic and unpredictable. 

ROARS EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS PLAN (2) - Ramona amateur communications in an event like this are well documented in the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) communications plan (it is attached below).  ARES instructions for Ramona are summarized here, with our Don Scott (KF6AUP) listed as net control:

    1. ECRA Palomar Mtn repeater - 147.030 (-), PL 103.5  (County-wide coverage, but likely very busy)
    2. ROARS Ramona repeater - 145.300 (-), PL 88.5 (Coverage to Ramona, Palomar, Julian, Ranchita and more)
    3. CORA Mt. Woodson repeater - 145.180 (-), PL 107.2
    4. Simplex 145.710
    5. Simplex 146.520  (NOTE: We have appended this simplex frequency to the end of our bi-weekly nets to exercise our understanding and use of simplex coverage in the area)
    6. ARES also runs an HF net every Sunday at 0900 hours on 3.905 MHz.  We should consider using this frequency for the ROARS HF net activities.
Have you read the ARES communications plan?  Do you have these frequencies programmed in your radios?

An open question is - What is the emergency power duration of the repeaters listed in our plan?

3.       MAJOR EARTHQUAKE (Life changing)

A major earthquake is very different from other emergencies for many reasons.  

    • It happens without warning.  You can’t evacuate before the event, and maybe not after.  
    • The effects may be very wide spread (meaning first responders will be largely absent)
    • Most traditional communications will be down or swamped
    • The loss of utilities (power, water, propane) may be total and last for days or weeks.
    • Shopping for food or other household items may be impossible for some time.

The first obligation of ROARS members is to have enough food, water and other essential supplies to survive for days or weeks without support, possibly living outside your home.  Survival needs are first, then communications.

ROARS EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS PLAN (3) - Follow the ARES communications plan listed above under Major Fire (2), but there will be complications.  In this severe case it is very possible (likely) that no Net Control structure or person is available, and we should assume the repeaters are already dead or will die in hours or days as batteries or generators are depleted.  At that point, ROARS members can only rely on point to point communications assuming you are able to power your radio(s) for hours (or perhaps days or weeks) with battery power, generators or solar panels.   The club will establish practice sessions using (A) only our Ramona repeater and (B) with point-to-point communications to understand how well we can communicate in and around Ramona with no repeaters.

We should assume we must all take care of ourselves and each other for a long time.  For information on earthquake preparation and survival, click here on EarthQuakeCountry.

At the January 2018 meeting, the idea of having Ramona practice communications drills was widely supported.  We are thinking of drills twice a year, once in April and again during the Ramona Air Show in October.  Stand by for details!




Steve Sampson,
Feb 1, 2018, 9:16 PM