On May 8 & 9, 2018, ILEAS hosted a Communications Training / Exercise session, (also known as a "Plug & Play") where various assets from multiple agencies were brought to the ITC to train on new technologies and exercise the integration of different communications assets.
Participants included ITECS and UCP teams, IMERT, IEMA, IDOT, IL-TERT, Illinois Air National Guard, IESMA, AUXCOMM (a.k.a. Amateur Radio), plus other agencies.
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Agency representative from across the state listen to presentations and receive exercise instructions
Inside the Air Force National Guard Communications Command Post
These teams bring a wide range of communications resources to an incident or event, including workspaces for Command Staff, Dispatchers, cache radios, radio towers, repeaters, satellite telephone, cellular broadband, HF radios, data networks, generators, and more. All teams were assigned to working groups. Generally, two UCP type vehicle and one ITECS type vehicle worked together. Each group, coordinated by a COML, completed their assigned tasks and reported to the command center. Close proximity of all the units on the ILEAS property gave the opportunity to work together and learn from each other.
In addition, team members are subject matter experts in the various technologies in use, and can fill critical positions such as Communications Unit Leaders (COML), Communications Technicians (COMT), and Tactical Incident Dispatchers.
The first day included classroom learning and informational sessions on a variety of topics such as Standard Operating Procedures, FirstNet, cellular modems, WebEOC, and network storage. On the second day, everyone deployed and operated whatever communications equipment they brought. The intent was to test the ability of the various players to connect different communications systems as needed to provide services for almost any conceivable communications need. Teams were able to interconnect the communications equipment in the various vehicles in a variety of ways, proving the versatility of the teams and their resources.
IEMA Director William Robertson and Illinois S.W.I.C. Joe Galvin address the exercise participants
Also on the second day, IEMA's Acting Deputy Director and Chief of Staff Jennifer Ricker and new Director General William "Robby" Robertson visited the site and observed the teams as they worked on implementing the various equipment configurations planned for the day.
The event was considered a success by all, the event was intended to be a learning experience for everyone, and this objective was definitely fulfilled.