Disaster can strike with little or no warning and when it does the infrastructure may become susceptible and damaged severely enough that it may slow or halt the response time for first responders. The longer it takes to respond to a situation, the greater the risk for material, human and collateral damage.
Maintaining the integrity of the telecommunication network is vital for first responders to ensure continuity of operations and manage the operability of their communication systems and networks during emergencies. Disaster preparedness is designed to reduce disruption of essential services and maintain the flow of information when emergency situations occur.
The 452nd Communications Squadron collaborated with outside agencies to lead Team March members in an emergency communications training exercise. The exercise demonstrated the combined tactical communications and networking capabilities while practicing unified telecommunications and live video satellite service delivery to the March Emergency Management (EM) team.
The 452nd Civil Engineer Squadron, collaborated with the 163rd Reconnaissance Wing, California Air National Guard, to establish a connective network in a simulated, deployed environment between their mobile communication vehicles and the 452nd Communications Squadron’s Joint Incident Site Communications Capability (JISCC) field deployable package.
“The demonstration here is a collateral and joint capability exercise,” said Lt. Col. Scott Jones, “joint being with the Guard and collateral being with Emergency Management and Cal Fire.”
Cal Fire and the Riverside Sheriff’s Department provided a video feed from their aerial coverage to the JISCC. The Guard unit and EM linked up with the JISCC to demonstrate the ability to enhance their network by interconnecting with each other.
“Demonstrating we can come out here to set up and collocate is a big part of the exercise, also to interconnect and identify our short falls,” said Senior Master Sgt. Stephen Rouille, 452nd Communications Squadron Infrastructure Superintendent.
The Mission Support Group, parent organization to civil engineer and communications squadrons, provides the home base with many services that may range from, but are not limited to, tent city preparation and sustainment, load planning, personnel programs and training, information and communications, security, and aerial delivery.
“The purpose of this drill is to exercise our communication capabilities together,” said Tech. Sgt. Sam Leventer. “Our primary focus is to allow the base leadership to still communicate if our communication capabilities go down.”
The Communications squadrons’ JISCC package is a tactical bridge for first responder’s communication systems during an emergency within hours after being deployed. This improves situational awareness among agencies in the network and increases their productivity and response time for support and recovery.
Emergency Managements’ mobile Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is designed to be self-contained and an on-scene post. The mobile EOC can transmit and receive information from the JISCC and relay that information back to home base, keeping commanders informed and in control.
“Emergency Management is in charge of all the information flow for our wing,” said Senior Master Sgt. Robert Pascual, 452nd Emergency Management Superintendent “With all the different connectivity, it gives a common operative view in the EOC.”
Being able to establish communication with other agencies is a big part of this exercise. Developing situational awareness across the agencies involved reduces duplicated efforts and increases response efforts toward the common goal.
One of March Air Reserve Base’s missions is to provide service-ready Airmen and equipment at all times. These exercises help Airmen demonstrate and improve their abilities.
“Our primary focus is to provide base leadership with communication ability to view what is going on during emergency situations like fires, earthquakes, other natural disasters, or a downed aircraft,” said Rouille. “Having this capability available to the commanders provides situational awareness and allows them to put assets wherever they need relief.”
Exercises sharpen critical thinking and trouble-shooting skills. When faced with difficult circumstances, like an emergency situation, Airmen who have participated in such exercises are more mentally and physically capable of carrying out their training at a moment’s notice.
“To me this is one of the more important missions on the base just because of the capability it delivers to centralize municipal, state and national disaster control preparedness,” said Jones. “We need to be out and demonstrating these capabilities here at home station so we can be certain that we will be successful when deployed to a foreign location.”