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Emergency Equipment

This is meant to be a list that suggests appropriate equipment for responding to emergencies such as those supported by ORCA in its capacity as the RACES group for the City of Oakland. It is by no means exhaustive or complete and can always be improved upon.




The most basic equipment, of course, is your radio(s). The preferred basic rig is a dual-band (2 meter/440MHz) hand-held, followed closely by a dual-band mobile. Other bands are also useful. For example, the Oakland RACES plan currently intends to support Oakland Police (OPD) operation on the 220MHz band. Be sure that your radios are programmed with the frequencies used by ORCA ARES/RACES (see the link to ECHO Station Programmed Frequencies).


Beyond VHF/UHF radios, HF can figure in a large-scale RACES activation and mobile/portable rigs could be used. Also, just because we are licensed radio amateurs does not preclude us from operating other radios, such as Family Radio Service (FRS), General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), Citizens Band (CB), or even supported agency radios. While you may not possess radios from the police department, you may wish to acquire an FRS or other type of radio(s) to increase your usefulness in a disaster.


The two most important items to remember to support your radios are antennas and power. A basic "rubber duckie" antenna is fine for repeater operation, but for simplex use of a full quarter wave or better antenna will give much more reliable performance. Magnetically mounted (mag mount) antennas to attached to a vehicle (or any flat, large piece of steel) will give a significant boost to hand-held radio operation.


Power is critical. If you are going to operate for extended periods of time, include a way to power your radio from an AC operated (assuming power is available) power supply or a larger battery (such as a deep cycle marine battery). Another alternative is battery packs that accept AA alkaline batteries.


Be sure that any power connectors that you are using are wired to acceptAnderson Powerpole connectors. This is fast becoming the universal RACES power connector. Using Powerpoles in your home, vehicle and on all your power supplies, batteries and radios will give you maximum flexibility to use your equipment with that of other RACES members and organizations. When wiring Powepoles, BE SURE to observe the polarity convention described (i.e. black and red on the correct sides)!


"Go Bags"


There are really two basic types of "go bags" (also called Ready Packs, etc.): equipment and personal. The equipment bag(s) hold everything that you need to support radio communications. It will contain radio(s), power supplies, antennas, connectors, tools, etc. The personal bag includes clothing, protective gear, toiletries, etc. Below are some suggested items to include in these bags. They are divided by time as well as type. A personal bag to support a four-hour operation is very different from one meant to last 5-7 days.



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