SW Colorado Emergency Communications Exercise Today

By: Dan Bender, La Plata County Sheriff’s Office

The Southwest Regional Communications Committee in collaboration with regional Homeland Security emergency response agencies will be conducting a multi-jurisdictional exercise on Tuesday, February 18th, 2014.  The actual exercise will be from 9:00AM until 11:00AM. Physical set up for the La Plata County portion of the exercise will take place from about 8:00AM until 9:00AM at the Durango Fire Rescue station in Bodo Industrial Park at 142 Sheppard Drive in Durango.

The exercise is done periodically ( usually annually) to test radio and other forms of communication that would be used during a response to a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional emergency or  planned event.   This will be a test of the Southwest Region TACTICAL INTEROPERABLE COMMUNICATIONS (TIC) PLAN.  The Southwest Region, as it pertains to the Colorado Division of Emergency Management, consists of the counties of  San Juan, Montezuma, Archuleta, Delores, and La Plata as well as the Southern Ute and the Ute Mountain Ute tribes.

In La Plata County, mobile communications and command vehicles from Durango Fire Rescue; Durango Police Dept and La Plata County Sheriff’s Office will be set up next to the Durango Fire Rescue station in Bodo Industrial Park.  Once the exercise begins, dozens of area agencies representing Law Enforcement, Fire, EMS, Schools, Public Health, Animal Control, Offices of Emergency Management, Public Works, Transportation, and other support entities will test their ability to communicate with others within their organizations, and between the other agencies and groups using everything from ground phones and cell phones to internet and radios on a variety of frequencies on 800MHZ, VHF, and HAM systems.

The objective of the exercise is to improve the capability and efficiency of area public service communications in the event of an emergency and to have tested back-up systems in place in the event primary communications systems are out of service.  During last year’s exercise, over 6,000 responders communicated over the various systems in a 2 hour period, simulating high volume use during an emergency.

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