Santiago Peak – Orange/Riverside County Line – California
Founded in 1952, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (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 provides a pool of emergency communications personnel that can be called on in time of need. RACES groups across the country prepare themselves for the inevitable day when they will be called upon. When a local, state, or national government agency activates a RACES group, that RACES group will use its resources to meet whatever need that agency has. RACES groups develop and maintain their communications ability by training throughout the year with special exercises and public-service events.
All I remember is being dragged to a Field Day site in town back in 2003 over at Goathill Junction in Costa Mesa. I was bombarded with a test in front of me, took it, and passed. Within three weeks I received my license from the FCC and the rest is history. I guess most of the test answers were in my head and it was second nature at the time. I plan on getting my General License sometime in the future when time permits.
For four years I was involved with the local RACES organization called MESAC (Costa Mesa Emergency Service Amateur Communications). The day I turned 18 I became a full-time member (and an unpaid employee of the city!). I have to say it was a cool experience. I was able to see the city’s MCV (mobile command vehicle), go “behind” the police departments, and check out the 911 dispatch center. The city had a local repeater station (a unit that receives and then rebroadcasts) on top of city hall. I became a “Board Member at Large” of the organization before I left in 2007.
In May of 2004 I was selected to receive the ARRL Charles N. Fisher Memorial Scholarship. 39 scholarships were given out that year. I was one of the 4 recipients from the west coast (1 of 2 from the southwest division for CA and AZ). This was quite a shock since I was licensed for only a half a year at the time!
Today I am more involved with the new digital side of communications because it pertains to my line of work, primarily up in the 2.4 Ghz range. I highly agree that this is where the hobby will be heading. I know there are many people that don’t want to see the older modes of connunication become obsolite (SSB Phone, RTTY, AM/FM, even code). People need to see that our world is constantly changing to me more efficient (less power, higher quality). The hobby is being criticized heavily because of this reason of using old technologies. Yes, true, the general public doesn’t see the whole picture, but I see it as a wake-up call. Furthermore, when and if a disaster strikes, relief organizations are becoming more efficient themselves. We saw how the response to the recent hurricanes in the U.S. fell apart in areas, but the commercial side of wireless communications became more practical and effective. Sure, Hams will always have their part in the hobby to serve on command, but we’re not the government. A government offical would rather use his cell phone or some other commercial means to talk rather than being followed by some person with a radio. Sad but true. As soon as the NEXtel/Sprint or Verizon truck pulls up, the Hams are out of business unless we come up with a more efficient way to contribute.
As of today, I am no longer involved with the public service side of the hobby so I can concentrate on my education and career. Maybe if things change I will go back, which I believe it will.
Sunset on Santiago Peak