San Luis Obispo County Emergency Communications Council (SLOECC)
What is this service?
This is the online site of the San Luis Obispo County Emergency Communications Council (SLOECC). The SLOECC is the logistic support organization for amateur radio emergency communications in San Luis Obispo (SLO) County halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Welcome to the online site of the San Luis Obispo County Emergency Communications Council. “SLOECC” is the logistic support organization for amateur radio emergency communications in San Luis Obispo County, on California’s Central Coast – about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.
This site offers information about activities of SLOECC and the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) in San Luis Obispo County. These organizations are made up of over 100 FCC-licensed amateur radio operators who have volunteered their time and resources to serve the community in times of emergency. RACES/SLOECC members are located throughout the County. They maintain reliable radio systems that do not depend upon regular sources of electric power, and are prepared to respond to the need for radio communications whenever regular systems fail or are overloaded, including such emergency conditions as fire, flood, toxic spill, earthquake, nuclear plant emergency, or other disasters.
More About SLOECC
Emergency Radio Communications
Amateur radio operators in the United States have a long and distinguished history of community service, most notably in the field of emergency communications.
Whenever regular communications channels are down and/or commercial electric power systems have failed or are overloaded, "hams" have provided a temporary and reliable back-up system. Fires, floods, earthquakes, major storms, power outages... virtually any disruption of normal services brings out the amateur radio emergency teams. While our primary emphasis is on relaying "health and welfare" information, hams also provide direct support to public safety agencies when regular channels are inaccessible.
In San Luis Obispo County, hams have served during the Las Pilitas Fire, Highway 41 Fire, both Highway 58 Fires (1996 and 2002), December 1988 snowstorms and the December 2003 earthquake. Additionally, they have participated in every County wide siren test and emergency exercise.
Who Are These Amateur Radio Volunteers?
Licensed amateur radio operators include college professors, engineers, psychologists, business executives, public employees, students, and homemakers... folks from all walks of life who have developed technical skills and who want to make a valuable contribution to their communities.
A Word About Amateur Radio
Let's clear up one possibly confusing term. The Federal Communications Commission licenses certain non-commercial radio operators as "amateurs" because they are not permitted to accept any pay for their services. Except for that, "amateur" is not an accurate description of the efforts or skills of the ham community. These are trained, licensed and experienced communicators who know the territory, and understand their role when the need arises.
Amateur Radio Service Groups
San Luis Obispo County's amateur radio emergency operations are organized into two service groups:
- The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) -- administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through the County Office of Emergency Services. RACES was established to provide needed back-up and secondary communications for public safety agencies. If a city's emergency phone or radio channels become overloaded in an emergency, for example, RACES units are available to provide back-up communications.
- The San Luis Obispo County Emergency Communications Council (SLOECC) -- established by local amateur radio operators to coordinate the activities of RACES -- serves as a support organization for all amateur radio emergency services in the County. SLOECC, through its Board of Directors and program committees -- provides logistic support, periodic training meetings, weekly on-the-air drills, this web site, and numerous field-training exercises to help prepare RACES members for effective emergency communication service. Members regularly participate as volunteer communicators in such events as the PG&E Siren Test and County OES/FEMA emergency exercises.
Amateur radio emergency communications service agreements are in place with several public agencies and community organizations in San Luis Obispo County, including:
- SLO County Office of Emergency Services
- Salvation Army
- American Red Cross
- California Department of Forestry-County Fire
- SLO County Office of Education
- SLO County Sheriff
- Various cities, through fire and police departments and other community agencies
- Local area hospitals
- Any agency which requests assistance through the County Office of Emergency Services
Amateur radio, via RACES and SLOECC, is an integral part of the emergency plans of each of these key community service agencies (Many have licensed amateurs on their staffs).
SLOECC maintains a fully equipped RACES radio communications center at the county Emergency Operations Center on Kansas Avenue off Highway 1, adjacent to the Sheriff's Office. In addition, local RACES emergency communication centers are located in San Luis Obispo, Atascadero, Morro Bay, Grover Beach, Cambria, Los Osos, Oceano, Paso Robles and at Cal Poly. Other emergency communication centers throughout the county under construction or in the planning stages include Templeton and Nipomo. Remote mountaintop repeater stations are maintained to allow VHF and UHF contact across the wide terrain of the County.
Should regular telephone systems fail or become overloaded in an emergency, SLOECC also has radio links with nearby counties and with the State Office of Emergency Services.
What RACES/SLOECC Means to You
Communities -- If you are an elected or appointed public official who represents a municipality in San Luis Obispo County, RACES representatives will be delighted to explain how amateur radio can offer reliable back-up for your public safety communications. Amateur radio can help.
Schools -- Is your district prepared to provide communication with families during a possible evacuation? Might you need emergency backup for contact with buses or other district sites? Amateur radio can help
Hospitals -- In a recent power outage in Orange County, one major hospital's telephone system failed. The hospital invited local amateur radio operators to help, and emergency service was made available within minutes. Amateur radio can help
Agencies -- Nationally and in SLO County, the American Red Cross and Salvation Army are linked with amateur radio through formal service agreements. Hams provide communications assistance for "health and welfare" messages, keeping agencies in touch with each other, and letting anxious relatives far away know about the status of loved ones. Could your agency use similar help in an emergency? Amateur radio can help.
Potential Volunteers -- If you are a licensed amateur radio operator who would like to be of direct help to your neighbors and community in times of emergency, RACES/SLOECC can use your help! As they say in the classifieds: "No experience necessary; Will train." We'd love to hear from you. If you are not licensed, we can help you get your amateur radio license.