Emergency Communications Plan

Ramona, the very center of San Diego County, has several conditions that make our emergency needs different than most of southern California.  They are:

This page describes our plans and guidance on how Ramona Hams should communicate in an emergency with HT's, vehicles or base rigs.  A quick-start guide on bringing an emergency net alive is at the bottom of the page.

Read this NOW!  It is too late when the emergency happens!  


BACKGROUND:  Ramona has some unique characteristics that drive emergency response planning.  Unlike most of San Diego, we live with steep slopes, rocky terrain, rolling topography, deep canyons, high valleys, and expanses of grassland.   Unlike most of San Diego, Ramona has limited road access that can quickly become useless with damage or accidents.  Mountain thunder storms can cause significant local flooding.  Fires are a particular threat because the native vegetation is highly combustible during the long, seasonal dry periods, and strong Santa Anas can push back-country fires into Ramona.  The entire area of Ramona outside of the Town Center is vulnerable.  These days it is now SDG&E's policy to turn power off at any time fire danger is high, and significant events WILL cause a power outage.  Large fires have caused near impossible mass exits of people from Ramona, blocking roads for hours.  Earthquakes could damage the few roads enough to make passage either way completely impossible.  In all cases, cellular service can become swamped or off the air entirely.  Life in Ramona can get complicated quickly! 

PLAN PURPOSE:  To help ROARS members (and the larger community) have the ability to communicate under the most severe conditions.  We have a local HF/VHF/UHF communications capability, emergency plans, net control instructions, and recommended frequencies to provide the most effective emergency communications possible throughout Ramona and the surrounding rural areas.

PARTICIPANTS:  ROARS members of course, and others in need.  ROARS regularly practices bringing an EMERGENCY NET alive during our bi-weekly nets, and we want all members to be Net Control qualified.  All participants MUST be able to use the two primary frequencies listed below, and should be able to use all of our Top 10 frequencies listed in the following table.

AREA OF COVERAGEOur coverage area is focused on rural country from Mt Woodson across the Ramona valley and extending north to Palomar and east through Julian to Ranchita and the Cuyamacas.   The city & other suburbs have different needs and capabilities than Ramona.  

PRIMARY FREQUENCIES:   ROARS nets ALWAYS begin of our 145.300 mHz (- 88.5) repeater, or on 145.710 Simplex (no PL) if the repeater is down.  NOTE that our ROARS .300 repeater is NOT on a mountain top but down at 1400 feet in the Ramona valley.  Why?  In real emergencies we have found that the popular high elevation San Diego repeaters are horribly swamped by heavy traffic, or they die early from battery exhaustion.  Our much more private & solar powered repeater gives reliable and uncongested coverage in our area - a huge plus for Ramona.

QUICK START GUIDE:  PLEASE download and print the "ROARS Emergency Net - Quick Start Guide" at the bottom of this page and keep copies at your ham shack and in your cars.  If things went to hell in Ramona, following this guide is the fastest way we can all find and help each other!

Ramona is listed as one of the worst towns in California to escape from during a wildfire!  

Do you really think you can escape Ramona if everyone began to flee?  You can't!  Evacuating Ramona could take hours even if all roads were open, and fire, earthquake or accidents will close some.  Your only viable options are to (1) leave early, or (2) be prepared to stay long term and get on the air for local knowledge and help.   If you do need to escape, did you know there are actually six paved and two dirt roads out of the Ramona valley?  Without exception, all routes loose communications to the valley (even at 50 watts) soon after you loose line of sight.   CAUTION:  If there is fire, be very sure you don't travel into its path.  

Options to exit Ramona are listed here, clockwise from 67 South:


(Do you have these frequencies programmed in your radios?): 

Emergencies in Ramona can be grouped into three categories, listed here from the least to the most impact.  The recommended ROARS response for each level of emergency is included.

A storm with potential flash floods over Black Mountain

1.       SEVERE STORM (least impact)

Ramona area weather issues are most likely from significant rain, wind or possible lightning.  Impacts are usually localized with flooding, mud slides, road closures and perhaps individual family assistance.  Being able to help ROARS members deal with these is the purpose of the ROARS emergency net.  In addition, weather issues are 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 phone or internet to the San Diego NWS headquarters.  From there information is disseminated by the NWS to the media or first responders as needed. 

SEVERE STORM EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS PLAN – To share information during a severe weather event, your job is to join or start a ROARS emergency net on 145.300 or 145.710.  Skywarn will also notify certified spotters to report events on the ECRA Palomar repeater 147.030 (+)103.5 (Primary) or San Diego County RACES/ACS repeater 147.195(+)114.8 (Secondary - Use only when ECRA Palomar isn't reachable!).  We spotters 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

An early morning fire spotted near the Cuyamaca Mountains and potentially burning toward Ramona.

2.       SEVERE FIRE (MEDIUM impact)

Ramona has too much experience with major fires that have destroyed thousands of acres, burned homes and caused mass exodus.  Whether it is a local fire or Mother Nature run amuck, fires are the most likely major emergency we will experience.  The ROARS needs may range from getting - or giving -  local assistance, to becoming extra eyes to report road closures, accidents, flame directions, etc.  Fires can certainly destroy cellular sites.  If if still operating, cellular will likely become swamped and unreliable.  The ROARS emergency net may become our most effective communications tool.

SEVERE FIRE EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS PLAN  There are two additional steps that may be useful for you.  (1) We have links to area winds and many mountain top web cams that you can use to see where the fires are.  That may give you valuable information to determine what actions you, or other ROARS members, should take.  On the dropdown menu, select "Area Weather & Webcams".  (2) In the event of major fire power cuts, SDG&E will attempt to keep power on in the downtown Ramona area so groceries and gas is available.  

If an earthquake damages one of the few roads out of Ramona, we would have to be self-sustained for days or weeks.

3.       EARTHQUAKE (MOST impact)

A major earthquake in our area is likely the worst possible emergency because:

No other disaster can equal the  impact of a major earthquake.

SEVERE EARTHQUAKE EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS PLAN – If there is a severe earthquake, your job - as always - is to join or start a ROARS emergency net on 145.300 or 145.710, but getting on the air isn't important if you haven't prepared your family and home.  For example:

If you have all this under control, then get on the air.  Other folks won't be as well off.

Running a ROARS Emergency Net.pdf