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July 22, 2014

Oswego County E-911 Hosts Emergency Communications Training Course

PHOENIX - The Oswego County E-911 Department hosted a training session this week for communications technicians. The All Hazards Communications Technicians (COMT) training course took place at SUNY Oswego's Phoenix Center with a media day on Thursday, July 17 from 10 a.m. to noon.

"The unique focus of this training is to bring area resources together with state and federal partners to review accepted practices for interoperable communications," said Oswego County E-911 Director Michael Allen. "This certification strengthens the region's ability to establish public safety communications in the event of natural or man-made disasters that would otherwise impact existing resources."

Representatives from 15 emergency communications agencies attended the training, including Oswego, Onondaga, Warren and Jefferson counties, the American Red Cross, New York State Police, U.S. Coast Guard, and the Office of Interoperable Emergency Communications, a division NYS Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (NYS DHSES).

The COMT course covers practices and procedures common to radio communication technicians during all-hazards emergency operations. It highlights interoperable communications, the ability of technicians to talk to each other using different types of communications systems, and is intended to help them work within the Incident Command System (ICS) organizational structure.

Instructors will go over the technicians' role in emergency situations, such as how they fit in at the command center and who they report to; what their duties are and what equipment is available to them; and establishing a communications system, in some cases where one doesn't already exist or where the existing one has failed. Training began on Monday, July 14 and continued through Friday, July 18. Participants balanced classroom modules with hands-on exercises from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Much of the drill portion was coordinated with a mobile command unit in the parking lot.

Allen said, "This training provides an important networking opportunity for these counties and agencies to meet each other and showcase their respective resources. Their technicians and equipment are all part of a cache of assets meant to work together in response to large-scale emergency situations. The idea is to bring people with the skill set together with the proper equipment to the areas where they are needed most."

A considerable amount of this equipment and training was made possible through state and federal grants that focus on the collaboration of various governments and agencies to ensure the flow of communication in the event of an emergency.

"Communications are an important part of ensuring the safety of our residents in the event of an emergency," said Legislator Linda Lockwood, District 11, chairwoman of the Oswego County Legislature's Public Safety Committee. "It is imperative that our technicians have the tools and training they need to establish and maintain communications so they can respond to a variety of situations."

The Oswego County Legislature's Public Safety Committee oversees the Oswego County E-911 Office. In addition to Legislator Lockwood, the committee includes vice chairwoman Margaret Kastler, District 1; Shane Broadwell, District 17; Robert Hayes Sr., District 10; Richard Kline, District 12; Jacob A. Mulcahey, District 15; Roy E. Reehil, District 5; and Amy M. Tresidder, District 16.

For more information about the COMT session, call the Oswego County E-911 Office at 315/349-8215 or 1-800-679-3911 or visit their Web site at oswegocounty.com/911.

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