Disaster Emergency Communications
DEC 101 – An Overview
For the RRT3 May 16, 2012
Ronald (Ron) Zuber, REC, FEMA, Region III
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
DEC Strategic Goal
• Goal: Build an effective disaster emergency communications
program to improve tactical communications and
interoperability capabilities during disaster response.
• Intent: Promote interoperable communications at the
Federal, State, local, and Tribal levels that can support and
provide resilient communications capabilities for response
efforts. Emergency communications will incorporate voice,
video and data capabilities.
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
DEC Strategic Objectives
• Support effective tactical interoperable voice, video and data
communications for emergency response teams
• Identify mission-critical disaster emergency communications
capabilities, requirements, solution and mitigation strategies
• Develop an effective command and control communications
framework for the Regional Administrator
• Promote communications interoperability with State and local
response organizations through Regional Emergency
Communications Coordinating Working Groups (RECCWGs)
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
DEC Coordination with the Regions,
States and Localities
DEC integrates with State and local agencies through the Region to provide
emergency communications assistance throughout all phases of an incident
FEMA Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) provide mobile and
tactical communications capabilities to support State and local agencies
requesting emergency communications support
FEMA Regional Emergency Communications (REC) Coordinators report to
the RA on emergency communications issues in the Region, establish
relationships with State and local emergency responders, and coordinate disaster
emergency communications capabilities and requirements during a response
RECCWGs serve as a coordination point for Federal, State, local, and Tribal
agencies at the regional level on emergency communications-related matters
FEMA State Emergency Communications Plans describe the primary and
backup communications systems used by Federal, State, local, and Tribal entities
and identify resources that States may request during a catastrophic event
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
FEMA MERS Overview
MERS provides operations, communications, and logistics assets in
response to Presidentially declared emergencies and disasters, as well as
planned National Special Security Events
Deploys, installs, and operates communications equipment in support of Federal,
State, and local agencies
Provides tactical communications equipment to enable incident command and
control and ensure safe and effective response and recovery operations and
situational awareness
Serves as a national asset and deploys response teams and equipment from six
geographically dispersed Detachments throughout the country (Bothell, WA;
Denton, TX; Denver, CO; Frederick, MD; Maynard, MA; and Thomasville, GA)
Participates in various FEMA Regions activities including—
RECCWG meetings
State emergency communications planning efforts
Regional communications exercises
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
FEMA MERS Services and Support
MERS detachments provide a wide range of support
that include the following capabilities:
Land Mobile Radio (LMR) support (VHF, UHF, 800 MHz)
Portable radios and repeaters
Satellite communications
Line of sight (LOS) microwave units
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and Radio over IP (RoIP)
Secure communications equipment, fax, and video
Power, water, fuel, and life support
Communications technicians to maintain and operate the
Services include:
Temporary communications infrastructure support
Backup Emergency Operations Center and dispatching
Public alert and warning
Backhaul connectivity
Sheltering and facility communications
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
MERS – Incident Response Vehicle
• On-Call (Ku-band) satellite
• Phone /data /video support
• VHF radio repeater
• Telescoping radio and TV mast and antennas.
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
IRV in Forward Area Operations
The IRV as a stand-alone operations support
or remote monitoring below.
A portable tower and repeater supports
LMR (UHF/VHF) operations above.
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
MERS Emergency Operations Vehicle
MEOV as forward area
operations support platform
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
MRV - Multi-Radio Van
 Ku-band satellite
 LOS Microwave
 Landline connections
 Repeater and Cross Patch
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
Mil Air Transport of MRV and IRV
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
Regional Emergency Communications
(REC) Coordinator – Roles
• Support the coordination of resources, expertise and staffing for activities
and roles in the Region/RECCWGs
• Lead State and Regional emergency communications plans development
and provide technical expertise on existing and emerging emergency
communications technologies
• Serves as primary advisor to the RA on emergency communications
• Supports the administration of the RECCWGs building key relationships
between Federal, State, local, Tribal, and private sector partners
• Coordinates/participates in National, regional, cross-regional, State, and
local conferences and communications exercises
• Supports IMATs and ESF #2 during response, leveraging RECCWG and
stakeholder relationships
• During response, provides staffing to the RRCC and coordinates
with/leads resources within the DEC Branch
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
RECCWG Overview
The Department of the Homeland Security Act of 2007, Title XVIII Section
1805 (Pub.L. 109-295) established the RECCWGs
RECCWGs are planning and coordinating bodies responsible for providing a forum to
assess and address the survivability, sustainability, operability, and interoperability of
emergency communications at all levels
RECCWGs serve as a single coordination point for emergency communications at the
regional level
RECCWGs are regionally focused and are expected to have unique membership
dependent on regional government structure and processes
Membership includes Federal, State, local, and Tribal representatives from emergency
response organizations
FEMA has principle responsibility to help establish and support the
RECCWGs, but the focus and direction of the RECCWGs is determined by
the RECCWG members
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
RECCWG Statutory Duties
Each RECCWG must report to the RA and coordinate their activities with the
relevant Regional Advisory Council
 Assess the survivability, sustainability, and interoperability of local emergency
communications systems to meet the goals of the NECP
 Ensure a process for the coordination of effective multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency
emergency communications networks for use during natural disasters, acts of
terrorism, and other man-made disasters through the expanded use of emergency
management and public safety communications mutual aid agreements
 Coordinate the establishment of Federal, State, local, and Tribal support services and
networks designed to address the immediate and critical human needs in responding
to natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters
 Report annually to the relevant RA, the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC),
Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and National Telecommunications and
Information Administration (NTIA) on the status of its region in building robust and
sustainable interoperable voice and data emergency communications networks
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
RECCWG Membership and Partnership
(1) NON-FEDERAL.—Organizations representing the interests of the
(A) State officials
(B) Local government officials, including sheriffs
(C) State police departments
(D) Local police departments
(E) Local fire departments
(F) Public safety answering points (9–1–1 services)
(G) State emergency managers, homeland security directors, or
representatives of State Administrative Agencies
(H) Local emergency managers or homeland security directors.
(I) Other emergency response providers as appropriate
Representatives from the Department,
the FCC, and other Federal
departments and agencies with
responsibility for coordinating
interoperable emergency
communications with or providing
emergency support services to State,
local, and tribal governments
Communications equipment manufacturers and
vendors (including broadband data service providers)
Local exchange carriers
Local broadcast media
Wireless carriers
Satellite communications services
Cable operators
Public utility services
Emergency evacuation transit services
Ambulance services
HAM and amateur radio operators
Representatives from other private sector entities and
nongovernmental organizations as the Regional
Administrator determines appropriate
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
RECCWG Benefits
Key Coordination Venue
Serves as a key venue for coordination among
Federal, State, local and Tribal emergency
response organizations across each FEMA
Encourages collaboration among State, local,
and Tribal emergency response organizations to
share lessons learned and best practices and to
conduct planning across State boundaries
Inter-State and Regional Planning
Promotes consistent and collaborative efforts for regional and inter-state communications
planning and technical solutions
Provides a vision into regional preparedness efforts by serving as a mechanism for State,
local, and Tribal agencies to help FEMA and other Federal agencies define and integrate
emergency communications support during an incident
Ability to Influence National and Regional Activities
Supports the ability for State, local, and Tribal entities to influence and provide input to
National (e.g., grant processes, ECPC) and regional emergency communications-related
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
State Emergency Communications Plans
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
An integrated Federal, State, local,
Command and Control
and Tribal approach to ensuring
effective communications
coordination prior to and immediately
following an incident
Search and Rescue
Identifies key Federal, State and
local emergency response agencies,
and technical capabilities and
Establishes relationships with key
Debris Removal
response organizations at all levels
of government
Provides a comprehensive view of communications requirements and mitigation
strategies for seven mission areas
Supplements and leverages existing State and local communications plans
(e.g., SCIP, TICP)
Critical Missions
State ECP Benefits
• Enables rapid coordination and deployment of Federal
resources to support State and local needs during an event
• Establishes relationships with Federal, State, local, and Tribal
response organizations
• Provides a comprehensive view of State and local
requirements and response capabilities
• Identifies mitigation strategies and pre-scripted mission
assignments for support from Federal agencies
• Produces results that serve as input to RECCWG efforts
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
Improvements Made Since PKEMRA
Enhancements to Tactical Communications
Development and implementation of the FEMA National Response Network (NRN) to facilitate tactical
communications within FEMA and across Federal, State, local, and Tribal responders
Improvements in communications capabilities such as the Mini Emergency Operations Vehicle (MEOV)
and portable radio tower trailers to increase tactical support capabilities for emergency responders
Establishment of additional portable radio caches for communications interoperability with emergency
responders at all levels of government
Strengthening Stakeholder Relationships
Establishment of REC Coordinators in each of the 10 Regions to serve as an advisor to the RA on
emergency communications, facilitate emergency communications planning, and support RECCWGs
Establishment of the 10 RECCWGs in the Regions to serve as a focal point for stakeholder coordination
at all levels of government for emergency communications issues in the Regions
Understanding of Communications Requirements
Development of 43 State and Territory Emergency Communications Plans focused on communications
requirements at the State, local, and Tribal levels, with additional plans under development
Development of a Technology Roadmap to define a path forward for identifying new and emerging
technologies to support future tactical communication needs
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
Disaster Emergency Communications Division
Ronald (Ron) Zuber
215-931-2892 Desk
[email protected]
Disaster Emergency Communications Division

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