What is IDEC?

IDEC (Irvine Disaster Emergency Communications) is an organized team of over 60 experienced, trained and dedicated amateur radio operators (Hams). Members routinely volunteer their time and extensive radio communication skills and talents to perfect an auxiliary radio communications network designed to augment (or replace) normal methods of communications used by the Police Department of the city of Irvine in times of emergencies or major disasters. Operationally, IDEC is a subset of the Irvine Police Department.

As a component of the City’s Emergency Preparedness Plan, IDEC was organized in 1982 and operates at the direction of the Irvine Chief of Police, David Maggard. The Chief is also the City’s Director of Public Safety. Operationally, IDEC is supervised by an IPD Sergeant. IDEC operates a number of highly technical, state-of-the-art radio equipment, including two UHF repeaters, and various other communication devices including Packet, Slow Scan TV (SSTV), and HF radio. With this equipment, IDEC is able to immediately establish a lifeline communications network between the Irvine Police Department, citywide evacuation centers, school sites, public buildings, medical facilities, local parks and any other location where normal means of communications has failed.

IDEC members undergo continual training which hone their skills and abilities in providing emergency communications to the PD. In addition, IDEC members receive training in routine duties that police and fire personnel might be not be able to perform due to overriding obligations as a result of a cataclysmic event.

IDEC's Board of Directors is comprised of 4 voting members: Captain and three Sergeants.  IDEC members are divided into 3 geographic teams - each includes a leader (IDEC Sergeant) which is a sitting member of the Board of Directors.  The IDEC Board is responsible for setting the mission, goals and training objectives for the group.  IDEC's motto is OBSERVE AND COMMUNICATE.

A partial list of IDEC’s technical capabilities, experience and training include:


  • Two UHF repeaters, one located at City Hall, and one on a nearby hill top each with emergency power back-up. Both digital controllers feature telephone access and Digital Voice Recording (DVR). Coverage is Citywide.


  • Portable emergency communication stations (Emergency Radio in Community (E.R.I.C.)) are located at the high schools in the city of Irvine. These schools are designated emergency shelters. Each station is equipped with battery power, a dual band amateur radio, printer, and lap top computer. They have voice, Slow Scan TV (SSTV), and Packet (digital text) capability.


  • For fixed communications, at the Operations Support Facility (OSF), a 28-foot tower with multi-band HF antenna, and a 20-foot tower with UHF/VHF antenna are ready for immediate use.


  • A local area computer network system that operates within the PD has been implemented in order to pass written messages from the field to the Incident Commander during emergencies.


  • IDECers participate in two drills and three public service events each year. The purpose? To sharpen communications skills and develop a sense of “team.”


  • IDECers are offered a varying number of classes including first aid, CPR, lectures and hands-on exercises in subjects ranging from First Response Training to HAZMAT recognition, emergency shelter management, windshield surveys, etc.


  • A dedicated radio room within the IPD complex, which contains radios, packet stations, computers, an integral LAN system and other communications tools necessary to manage the Mission of IDEC.


  • Periodically IDEC offers a weekend class to become an FCC licensed amateur radio operator--a basic IDEC requirement.


  • IDEC participates in the annual ARRL Field Day emergency operation exercise which is held in June.


  • ComVan.... A fully equipped, self contained mobile communications van, with associated lighting trailer, forms an important element in the IPD’s “Circle the Wagons” concept of emergency preparedness, communications and command and control.

If you are a Ham, interested in public service and giving some of your time, talent and expertise back to the city in which you either work or live, then IDEC might just be what you have been looking for.