ROARS Emergency Communications Plan

This page is for our plans and guidance on how Ramona Hams should communicate in an emergency with HT's, vehicles or base rigs.  

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.

In April 2018 the club tested local simplex communications from the Tractor Supply Company parking lot all around the Ramona area using mobile rigs running a 5 watts on 145.710.  While we made a detailed coverage map, the results are really quite simple.  Here are the key points:
  • On simplex VHF with low power (5 watts), you can talk point to point almost anywhere in the valley. 
  • Coverage in San Diego Country Estates has dead spots.  We should map this area in more detail.
  • There are eight paved or dirt roads out of the Ramona valley.  With one exception, they all loose communications (even at 50 watts) soon after you leave the valley.
  • The one exception is Black Canyon Road.  It is a graded dirt road that climbs to well over 2,000' leaving Ramona, and has awesome coverage inside and outside the valley.  It we ever need a local simplex VHF relay point to the outside world, this is the best location.

There are eight roads out of Ramona.  If you had to escape, do you know what they are and where they go?  
Listed here clockwise:
  1. 67 south to Poway (I-15) or Lakeside (I-8 or Highway 52)
  2. Highland Valley Road to San Pasqual Valley and Lake Hodges (I-15)
  3. 78 west to San Pasqual Valley and Escondido (I-15)
  4. Pamo Road north to Mesa Grande and Lake Henshaw (dirt, sometimes rough)
  5. Black Canyon Road north to Lake Sutherland (dirt, graded, the only high elevation route.  High Point for a relay station is at 33.119380, -116.811442, the Black Canyon Summit trail head.)
  6. 78 east to Santa Ysabel (Highway 79)
  7. Old Julian Highway to Santa Ysabel (Highway 79)
  8. San Vicente Road and Wildcat Canyon Road to Lakeside (I-8 or Highway 52)


BACKGROUND:  Ramona is characterized by steep slopes, rocky terrain, rolling topography, deep canyons, high valleys, and expanses of grassland. The native vegetation is highly combustible during the long, seasonal dry periods. Significant fire activity is not uncommon in the heavily vegetated foothills and canyons, with a relatively dry climate and low relative humidity during the late summer and fall periods. Winds commonly occur from the west.  Although strong winds from the west and south can be a problem during a fire, the dry, strong north and east winds (Santa Anas) are more problematic.  The entire area of Ramona outside of the Town Center is vulnerable to fire. As Ramona borders undeveloped portions of other communities and the Cleveland National Forest, all of the areas bordering Ramona are also vulnerable to fire.  There are two new dangers posed by (a) a new SDG&E policy to turn power off at any time a fire danger is high, and (b) possible terrorist events in San Diego.  A significant event could cause power outage, disease and a mass influx of people to this area in need of shelter and support. 

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.


  1. 145.180 (-), PL 107.2.  Mt. Woodson repeater at 2800 ft owned by W6HDC.  Great coverage and available for ROARS use.
  2. 145.300 (-), PL 88.5 * ROARS Ramona VHF repeater at 1400 ft.  Coverage to Ramona, Palomar, Julian, Ranchita, some of the estates, and more.  Use this repeater first for Ramona emergencies!   Our Don Scott (KF6AUP) is listed as net control.
  3. 147.030 (-), PL 103.5 *  ECRA Palomar Mtn repeater at 6000 ft.  Excellent county-wide coverage, used for our bi-weekly net, but likely very busy in an emergency
  4. 445.760 (-), PL 88.5  ROARS Ramona UHF repeater located in Julian.  Echolink internet link capable.  
  5. 145.710 Simplex *  We use this frequency at the end of our bi-weekly nets to practice our local simplex communications skills without interfering with busier simplex frequencies.
  6. 146.520 Simplex  (This national calling frequency is the most heavily monitored.  In an emergency, it may be the easiest to find other hams on the air)
  7. 147.480 Simplex (ARES designates this frequency for emergency simplex communications for areas east of Mt. Woodson.  Click here for the ARES coverage map.  Program in your radios for times of need.)
  8. 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.
Do you have these frequencies programmed in your radios?  * = Of the emergency frequencies listed above, we normally use #2, 3 and 5 for our bi-weekly net. 


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!).  Volunteer hams staff a station within the local NWS office and relay all the Spotter reports to the NWS in real time.  We become additional eyes for the weather event.

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.  To quickly see where fires are burning around the county, use these mountain-top web cams to triangulate.

  1. NOTE:  The dependability of power will be worse, not better, in the future!  Past - SDG&E worked hard to maintain power 24/7.  Future - SDG&E will quickly cut power any time there is danger of fire.  
  2. Register for power outage warning calls by the county at this Ready San Diego link.
  3. They recommend everyone be prepared for power outages and have at least a 3-day Go-Kit of supplies.  
  4. For automated information on power outages 24/7, call SDG&E at 800-611-7343.
  5. If you want to report a power problem or intend to run a generator, call SDG&E customer service at 800-411-7343.
  6. To see the SDG&E power outages map, click here.
  7. IMPORTANT - When SDG&E does cut power in this area, they will try to leave downtown Ramona with power so we can get groceries and gas.

              ROARS EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS PLAN (2) - Get on the air using one or more of the frequencies listed above!  Ramona amateur communications in an event like this are well documented in the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) communications plan and the Ramona Area Communications Plan (both are attached below).  Start with the ECRA 147.030 repeater primarily to talk outside Ramona.  Start with the ROARS 145.300 repeater for Ramona communications.  Our Don Scott (KF6AUP) is listed as net control.  Simplex is always the final fallback.  But - you should print and read the Ramona Area Communications 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 and medical support 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, weeks or months.
                • Shopping for gas, 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.  Your survival needs are first, then communications.

              ROARS EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS PLAN (3) - Follow the Ramona Area Communications Plan listed above (and attached below) 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) various repeaters and (B) with point-to-point simplex communications to be comfortable communicating in and around Ramona with or without repeaters.

              For earthquakes, 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.

              If you want to monitor Incident and First Responder communications in San Diego or around the country on the web, Click Here for Broadcastify!




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