Los Gatos/Monte Sereno CARES
CERT-ARES-RACES Emergency Service
Emergency Radio Communications Volunteers
Who we are
We are Los Gatos & Monte Sereno area residents who have Amateur Radio (a.k.a. ham) licenses. We volunteer our time and radio equipment to provide emergency radio communications in times of declared local emergencies, on special occasions, and in practice exercises.
ACS (Auxiliary Communications Service) is the California Office of Emergency Services (OES) managed group of telecommunications volunteers, including Amateur Radio, who provide radio communications in situations requiring emergency communications services for emergencies declared by government agencies within California.
ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) is a service organized by a non-profit organization of ham radio enthusiasts (the ARRL). They have organized and trained hams throughout the U.S. to provide volunteer radio communications in emergency situations (supplemental to those covered by the RACES protocols (see below).
RACES (Radio Amateur Civilian Emergency Service) is a nationally organized group of radio amateur volunteers who provide emergency radio communications under the jurisdiction and rules/regulations of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the FCC during civilian emergencies declared by municipal, state or national governments. In particular, Los Gatos's Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) depends on the role of our RACES function in providing emergency communications services in a government-declared emergency. An updated EOP is planned for this year (2021) with an even stronger role for ARES-RACES.
The mission of the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno ARES-RACES Emergency Communications group is to provide amateur-radio-based communications, when traditional channels are unavailable, under procedures defined in the Town of Los Gatos Emergency Operation Plan.
Specifically, the mission is to provide emergency communications services to the:
Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Emergency Operations Center (EOC)
Santa Clara County (SCCo) Office of Emergency Management (OEM)
Los Gatos-Monte Sereno PD Emergency Services
Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) deployed at CERT Incident Command Posts (ICPs)
Red Cross run Shelters within LG/MS (LGHS, JCC, LDS Church)
Santa Clara County Emergency Medical Services Agency (EMSA) Commodity Points of Distribution (CPODs) at the Jewish Community Center (JCC), and Calvary Baptist Church
Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Disaster Aid Response Team (DART)
Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department Dispatch
We operate under the direction of the Los Gatos Town Manager and Assistant Town Manager who are the designated Emergency Managers for Los Gatos. Los Gatos also provides Incident Command for Monte Sereno under a delegation of authority. Los Gatos and Monte Sereno operate a combined EOC in Los Gatos during emergencies.
We receive guidance from the designated Emergency Manager for Los Gatos (the Ass't Town Mgr), the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department, and SCCo OES. We are closely aligned with the other Los Gatos-Monte Sereno emergency service organizations, including CERT, DART, VIPs, Explorer Post, and Red Cross (Disaster Mgt) to provide cooperative and complementary services during emergencies and special occasions. The role of Los Gatos (LG/MS) RACES in an emergency is defined in the town's Emergency Operations Plan.
We are an integral part of the SCCo OES support infrastructure through the network of city/town ARES-RACES volunteer groups. In support of the SCCo OES we provide emergency communications between the Los Gatos/Monte Sereno EOC and the SCCo OES EOC.
In support of the LG-MS Emergency Operations Center (EOC) we provide emergency communication to the SCCo EOC, CERT NICPs, Red Cross Shelters, SCCo CPODs, DART, PD Dispatch, and the El Camino Hospital - Los Gatos Emergency Hospital Command Center.
In support of LG/MS CERT during a declared emergency, we provide communications for local CERT volunteers to transfer their field reports to the town's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) from "district" Incident Command Posts (ICPs). In addition, we provide communications from the EOC to the ICPs.
We provide emergency radio operators, as needed, at the Santa Clara County Red Cross operated shelters at Los Gatos locations (Los Gatos High School, the Jewish Community Center (JCC), and the LDS Church).
We provide emergency radio operators at the SCCo Emergency Medical Services Agency (EMSA) Commodity Points of Distribution (CPOD) in Los Gatos at the JCC and Calvary Baptist Church when those CPODs are activated.
For the LG/MS DART during their Police support activities, we provide radio communications between field units and headquarters using either Amateur radio frequencies or assigned DART radio channels.
For the LG/MS PD Dispatch, we relay messages from locations and parties unable to utilize public communications methods (landlines and cellphones) to 911. We do this from amateur radio staffed locations. We intend to support the four SCCo Fire Stations in the Los Gatos area: Shannon station, Winchester station, University Avenue station, and the Quito Rd station).
For the El Camino Hospital - Los Gatos (one of the eleven SCCo Hospitals supporting the SCCo Emergency Medical Service Agency (EMSA) we operate EMSA provided amateur radio stations to communicate emergency status and logistical support information.
Between emergencies, we provide emergency communications skill-building and maintenance opportunities. Emergencies that we prepare for include destructive earthquakes, fire, flooding, epidemics, and other natural or human-made disasters, such as electrical power line and telephone/internet cable cuts (which seem to happen every ten years).
Our Goals and Objectives
Our Objective is 3 sigma (99.7%) reliability in delivering messages in both directions (including the accuracy of the message content) within 5 minutes of presentment (as a function of PRIORITY & IMPORTANCE) of the message, between each recognized client end-point.
Our (other quantitative sub) Goals to achieve our Objectives are:
Staffing levels at our targeted list of client sites requires an estimated 100 active members
Training plan/requirements (tbd)
Equipment plan/requirements (tbd)
Procedures plan/requirements (tbd)
Our Performance Measures
The quality of our organization is measured by how effective we are in delivering our mission: which is being able to transmit and receive messages accurately and reliably between all "client" parties as needed.
To deliver our mission requires three concurrent elements:
people (quantity and skill level when deployed)
procedures (individual and organization, both intra and inter)
equipment (radios, computers, antennas, power, cabling)
To measure our quality requires sampling and estimating. In the future we will attempt to gather and report such data.
How we are Organized
Our leadership has individually assigned functional areas of responsibility. Each area is the overall responsibility of one officer. At times, one officer may have more than one responsibility. We aspire to have 10 officers, one for each function:
Planning (defining and refining Mission, Goals, Objectives, including Quality)
Membership (acquisition/outreach and maintenance of active members)
Training (classes and exercises/drills)
Communication (web, social media, email, meetings)
Voice messaging technology (over FCC Parts 15, 90, 95 & 97 authorized frequencies and rules)
Text & Image messaging technology (over Parts 15, 90, 95 & 97 bands)
Video, real-time, technology (over Parts 15, 90, 95 and 97 bands)
Procedures (including emergency activation & deployment, messaging, ...)
Quality (Measures & Assessment of meeting objectives)
Safety (definition and assurance process)
Additional links to References mentioned above:
> For the latest Los Gatos Emergency Operation Plan (last revised 2015), see:
> For the Cal OES ACS overview and rules, see:
> For the FEMA RACES overview and rules, see:
> For information about FEMA, see:
> To sign up for a SCCo Fire "Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)" class, see:
Click on the [+] Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) heading
> For information about Emergency Preparation within LG/MS, see:
> To sign up for the SCCo Fire "Personal Emergency Preparedness (PEP)" class, see:
Click on the [+] Personal Emergency Preparedness (PEP) heading
> For information about LG/MS CERT, see:
> For information about LG/MS DART, see:
> For information about Emergency Response in Los Gatos-Monte Sereno, see:
> For information about the Santa Clara County ARES-RACES organization, see:
> For information about the Silicon Valley Emergency Communications System (SVECS), see:
> For information about Southern Peninsula Emergency Communication System (SPECS), see:
> For information about the West Valley Amateur Radio Association (WVARA), see:
This site last updated August 22, 2023