Air National Guard team enhances emergency communications

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Paul Gorman
  • 115th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Six Airmen from the Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing joined the Wisconsin Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package Jan. 21, to introduce the states latest emergency communications asset.

The Joint Incident Site Communications Capability team, all Air Force trained communication specialists, will augment the CERFP by providing a rapidly deployable communications platform to link the unit with other Department of Defense entities and civilian first responders.

According to Tech. Sgt. Eric Anderson, noncommissioned officer in charge of the JISCC, the event was a valuable opportunity to view CERFP operations first hand, and offer suggestions on how the JISCC could enhance methods currently used to accomplish their mission.

While assignment to the JISCC is an additional duty for his team members, Anderson recognizes the challenges such a critical mission can present.

"Some of [the requirements] are extremely different from what we do day-to-day," Anderson said. "As a base function we have nothing to do with satellite communications, but it's a major portion of the JISCC, so it's been a tremendous learning tool."

Capt. Kenneth Van Horn, operations officer in charge of the CERFP welcomed the addition of a dedicated communications element, and was immediately impressed by their use of cross-banding technology to solve a long standing issue of radio connectivity.

"Very casually they solved this problem that had plagued us for some time," Van Horn said. "That really opened a lot of eyes as to just how useful their equipment and expertise is going to be for us."

Van Horn continued to say that communications are often cited as the number one problem encountered in emergency response exercises and that it was no different with the CERFP.

"The JISCC will be able to solve a lot of those problems from both a broadband network and radio communications standpoint, both of which can be really key during an emergency response," Van Horn said.

As an integral component of the CERFP, the JISCC can now be tasked to respond to natural or man-made disasters in which local emergency response capacity has been exceeded. Their ability to establish critical communication functions will greatly enhance connectivity and interoperability in a potentially contaminated environment.

In order to maintain a high level of readiness, JISCC members will undergo refresher training on a monthly basis and are already scheduled for three joint CERFP exercises in 2015.