Honolulu Skyline as seen from Kapiolani Community College, Photo by David Cabatu

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Oahu Civil Defense Agency

Introduction

The Oahu Civil Defense Agency, in cooperation with local public safety agencies, provides for the protection of life and property for the island of Oahu.  Working closely with the Department of Defense (DOD) and State Civil Defense (SCD), OCDA has developed a volunteer program that use trained civilian personnel to provide mutual aid assistance to Police, Fire, EMS, Ocean Safety and the National Weather Service.

The amateur radio component to Civil Defense, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), provides communications between various government entities during times of civil defense emergency, which may include hurricanes, tsunamis, acts of terrorism, or war. (Excerpted in part from the Oahu Civil Defense Agency website)

Department Structure

Civil Defense Districts

For civil defense operations, the island of Oahu is divided into six (6) districts.  The primary Emergency Operations Center for the county is located in the basement of the Honolulu Municipal Building.  Each district has an EOC with communications capability on the City 800 MHz radio system, as well as amateur frequencies on HF, VHF, and UHF.

District

Areas Covered

1

Metro Honolulu.  The southern coastline from Pearl Harbor north to the Koolau Mountains and east to Makapuu Point.

2

Central Oahu and the North Shore from Kaena Point to Waimea Bay, and south to Kipapa Gulch and west to the Koolau Mountains.

3

The Waianae Coast, Campbell Industrial Park, and Makakilo east to the Waianae  Mountains.

4

Windward Oahu from Makapuu Point to Kualoa Point and west to the Koolau Mountains.

5

From Kualoa Point on the Windward Coast around Kahuku Point to Waimea Bay on the North Shore and west to the Koolau Mountains.

6

Ewa/Ewa Beach on the southern coastline to Pearl Harbor to include Waipahu, Waipio Gentry, Pearl City, to Halawa and east to the Koolau Mountains.

7

Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services (RACES), located at the Oahu Civil Defense Agency at the Honolulu Municipal Building.

Civil Defense Administration

The Oahu Civil Defense Agency is headed by a team of nine administrators, which include an administrator, a deputy administrator, communications officer, public information officer and secretary.  Other administrative positions are not known right now.

Civil Defense Volunteers

The OCDA Volunteer Program was formed in the early 1950s, and utilizes the services of community volunteers to assist in responding to various natural and man-caused disasters that affect the island of Oahu.  Volunteers serve as the "eyes and ears" and work in operational districts around the island as responders, communicators, traffic control, and administration.  Their jobs require them to be out in the worst of conditions contending with rain, flood waters, high surf, and darkness. (Excerpted in context from the OCDA website).

More Information: http://www.honolulu.gov/ocda/volunteer.htm

Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service

During times of disaster, amateur radio operators have always served their community by providing radio communication when normal communications such as telephone, broadcast radio, and government radio systems were impaired or disabled.  One of the organizations of amateur radio operators assisting in emergency communications on Oahu is the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service.  A national organization founded in 1952, RACES operates mostly at the local and state level to assist government communication needs during disasters.  (Excerpted in context from the Oahu website).

More information: http://www.honolulu.gov/ocda/races.htm

Radio Communications

Emergency Alert System

In Hawaii, EAS broadcasts originate from State Civil Defense in Birkheimer Tunnel, and can be monitored on 161.640 MHz.

When warning sirens sound, listen to important emergency information any TV or radio station.  Civil Defense will advise the public of the impending threat, issue evacuation orders, and issue statements as to what shelters may be opened

Civil Defense Volunteers

Prior to transitioning to the 800 MHz, civil defense operations were conducted on a two-channel VHF radio system, of which is listed in the table below.

Channel

Frequency

PL/DPL

Description
1 158.865   City Radio F-1
2 158.985   City Radio F-2

Oahu Civil Defense switched all communications to the Honolulu County 800 MHz trunked radio system during the Summer of 2001.  OCDA operates on analog mode using one of six district talkgroups.  I-CALL is a feature that is sometimes used, and only a handful of scanners are able to monitor these communications.

In mid-2006, all volunteers were switched over to Ericsson Jaguar 700 or 7100IP radios with the following talkgroups: CD Districts, CD Common, HFD Dispatch, HPD Patrol and Event, INTEROP, MUTAID, Talk Common (Conventional).  

Volunteer radios can only monitor HPD and HFD talkgroups, but can transmit on any one of four INTEROP groups.

Administration and District Coordinators may transmit on HPD/HFD talkgroups to coordinate mutual aid if necessary.

Trunked Radio System highlights:

- There are six talkgroups, one for each operational district
- There are eight CD 'Patrol' talkgroups, one for each police district
- There are several talkaround frequencies in conventional (non-trunked) mode, named TALK CD and TALK COM

Information on the Honolulu EDACS Trunked Radio System can be found here.

Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service

RACES use amateur radio frequencies in the HF, and VHF/UHF bands.  Various modes (analog voice, digital voice, and data) are used.  During activations, the following frequencies are used on a primary basis:

VHF/UHF Frequencies

VHF

UHF

Location

146.880-

444.500+

Diamond Head

146.980-

448.700-

Honolulu Municipal Building

146.760-

 

Mokuleia, linked to 146.640 in Laie

146.640-

 

Laie, linked to 146.760 in Mokuleia.

146.550

  Simplex - District 1 West (Honolulu)

146.565

  Simplex - District 1 East (Hawaii Kai)

146.460

  Simplex - District 2 South (Mililani)

146.475

 

Simplex - District 2 North (Waialua)

146.445

 

Simplex - District 3 Waianae-Kapolei

146.505

  Simplex - District 4 Kailua-Kaneohe

146.490

  Simplex - District 5 Laie-Kahuku

146.535

  Simplex - District 6 Ewa-Waipahu-Aiea

146.415

  Simplex - OCDA

146.430

 

Simplex - OCDA

High Frequency (HF) Frequencies

Frequency

  Use

7.088 MHz

  NVIS - 40 Meter operations, lower side band

3.9935 MHz

  NVIS - 80 Meter operations, lower side band

Amateur radio operators have access to many more frequencies than just the ones listed above.  Operators may switch to secondary frequencies at the discretion of the Net Control Station (NCS) to maximize band usage and to prevent interference with on-going communications.  Because amateur radio operators can operate on almost any frequency that an individuals license allows, it would help to monitor the primary frequencies above to figure otu where secondary communications may take place.

Radio Call Signs

Civil Defense Administration and Volunteers

OCDA call signs take the form of Defense xxx where the first digit denotes the district number.

Call signs with a single digit, from Defense 1 through 9, are OCDA Administrators.

Call signs with two digits are OCDA Volunteers.

- Call signs that end with zero, like D10, D20, ... D80, are OCDA District Coordinators.  They have access to police and fire radio frequencies when needed to coordinate mutual-aid responses with other agencies.

- All other call signs with two or three digits are regular volunteers.

Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service

RACES call signs are those issued by the Federal Communications Commission.  At the OCDA radio console, the club station is KH6OCD.

Individual call signs can be used, and operators sometimes use tactical call signs during tactical/emergency nets.  Operation of the latter are usually at the discretion of the NCS, and use the Incident Command System structure.

For More Information

Official website: http://www.co.honolulu.hi.us/ocda/

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Copyright 2000-2006 by David J. Cabatu.  All Rights Reserved.