ROARS Emergency Communications Plan


On October 19th at 10:19 AM (10.19 on 10.19.  Got it?) as part of "The Great Shakeout Day", ROARS opened an emergency net on the ROARS VHF Repeater, 145.300 MHz (-), 88.5 Hz.  We had 7, almost 8, local Hams on the net.  While the turnout was modest during working hours, the good news is that all of them could have operated for at least 2-3 days without primary power if we had a real earthquake.  CLICK HERE to see the amateur radio organizations in California that participated.  ROARS is listed.

This page is a place holder for future 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.


AREA OF COVERAGE:  Ramona and the surrounding area, mostly for rural support.  Perhaps this area should be extended north to Palomar and east through Julian to Ranchita.  The city and suburbs have different needs and capabilities.

PARTICIPANTS:  ROARS members, and certainly any others in need.


My non-professional belief is that local emergencies will 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 – Easy solution is for ROARS members to become 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 - Ham Communication in an event like this is well documented in the Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (ARES) handouts (see attached).  For Ramona, here are the instructions, with Don (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 (Ramona to Julian and Ranchita coverage)
    3. CORA Mt. Woodson repeater - 145.180 (-), PL 107.2
    4. Simplex 145.710
    5. Simplex 146.520  

Two open question are (A) what is the emergency power duration of the repeaters covering Ramona, and (B) how does Net Control gets event reports to the right agencies if phone lines are down or swamped.

3.       MAJOR EARTHQUAKE (Life changing)

A major earthquake is very different from other emergencies in that 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, and the loss of utilities (power, water, propane) may be total and last for days or weeks.

The first obligation of ROARS members - and the general public - is to have enough food, water and other essential supplies to survive for days or weeks without support, and perhaps outside your home.  If you can survive, then communications become very important.

ROARS EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS PLAN - Follow the communications plan list above under Major Fire.  In this case it is very possible there is no Net Control structure or person available, but the same repeater selection list will serve communications as needed.  We should also assume the repeaters 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.   Perhaps we should practice point-to-point nets to see how well we can communicate within Ramona with no repeaters.

There is again the open question of having any path to communicate directly with any response agencies.    

A safer assumption may be to 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.

Please bring your thoughts to the January 2018 meeting.




Steve Sampson,
Oct 18, 2017, 8:12 PM