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FEMA Region IV Auxiliary Communications Working Group Update

February 24, 2017--The FEMA Region IV RECCWG DEC, AuxComm committee held its most recent working teleconference on February 24th, 2017. The chair of the committee, RECCWG member Steve Waterman, volunteer for County’s EMA, Homeland Security District, State EMA, NCC SHARES, and as Winlink network administrator, plays a role by overseeing the DHS NCC SHARES Winlink Radio Email Hybrid network. His various service roles have given him insight into the needs of the AuxComm community, and this subcommittee is working to enhance the opportunities for the utilization of qualified volunteers by civil authorities who wished to utilize auxiliary communications volunteers. The working group consists of Region IV state Emergency Management communications personnel, Statewide Interoperability Coordinators, and state Liaisons to various AuxComm volunteer organizations. The first few sessions focused on examples of best practices around the Region as county and state members briefed on current successful programs. This last session was scheduled to introduce members to DHS SHAred RESources (SHARES) High Frequency (HF) Radio Program and recent changes. The call was open to members of all ten RECCWGs, and members from each Region participated in the call. Mr. Ross Merlin, Program Manager for DHS SHARES, briefed the members and described the “no cost” opportunities available to civil authorities and their critical infrastructure partners, and how it is specifically suited to agency use of volunteer communicator resources. The NCC SHARES program provides support through the use of exclusive HF Channels for both voice and data opportunities such as the NCC SHARES Winlink hybrid radio email network system. This digital network now supports over 45 gateways, and is expanding continuously in order to handle the volume necessary to make it an effective transport layer for complex messages to and from locations that have no local communications infrastructure available. The network, which normally operates as a radio-to-Internet bridge for standard email, may also operate as “radio-only” Email through a MESH configuration over HF radio, and without the Internet. The next task for the FEMA Region IV AuxComm working group committee will be to further define the elements that comprise a successful AuxComm program and present them in a format that will benefit others. The committee will also discuss appropriate generic wording for a State and county EmComm plan for AuxComm volunteers. Those findings should be forthcoming in the next few months and will be made available to those who express an interest.

Republished with permission from Public Safety and Emergency Communications News Clippings, 6 Vol. 6 Issue: 2 January 31, 2017

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