Tactical Communication School Challenges Students

Students at the Tactical Communication School in Charlotte working out solutions during Friday's exercise.

NC Emergency Management joined forces last week with the Charlotte Fire Department and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency for the 4th annual Disaster Communications School.

The weeklong training brought in nearly 120 students from North Carolina and surrounding states to the Charlotte Fire and Police Training Academy. Students participated in classroom training and a functional exercise, held on Friday, Aug. 2.  The exercise involved 46 local and seven state agencies, as well as 10 non-governmental organizations, all working in concert to expose students to a variety of scenarios under controlled conditions. Greg Hauser, Statewide Interoperability Coordinator with NC Emergency Management, says the exercise is designed to create a realistic scenario that challenges the students to do everything from creating a radio communications plan, to installing, testing and troubleshooting tactical communications equipment. They were presented with simulated incidents that continued to evolve and challenge them throughout the day.

“Working in a controlled learning environment, the students were able to incorporate all they learned in the classroom into an Incident Communications Center,” Hauser, said. “This kind of realistic training is key to a successful response in real world situations.”

In addition to the instructors who mentored the students during the exercise, observers provided evaluation and provide feedback. They looked for things such as how the students reacted when faced with real-world capabilities that sometimes resulted in the resource they asked for being unavailable. Out-of-the-box thinking was encouraged and respectful disagreements were expected, to provide an opportunity for the students to look at a variety of options and possible solutions.

The courses taught throughout the week included Communications Unit Leader (COML), Communications Technician (COMT), Auxiliary Communicator (AUXC), Incident Tactical Dispatch/Telecommunicator Emergency Response Task Force (INTD/TERT), and Information Technology Services Unit Leader (ITSL).

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