MADISON, Wis. — It didn't take long for a small team from the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Fighter Wing to make a big impact on the Wisconsin National Guard's Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP).
The six-person Joint Incident Site Communications Capability (JISCC) team, Air Force-trained communication specialists, employs cross-banding technology to provide the CERFP the means to communicate with civilian first responders and other Department of Defense entities if the CERFP is called on to assist with response efforts to natural or man-made disasters.
"They solved this problem that had plagued us for some time," Capt. Kenneth Van Horn, CERFP operations officer, said. "That really opened a lot of eyes as to just how useful their equipment and expertise is going to be for us."
Communications are often cited as the biggest problem encountered in emergency response exercises, Van Horn continued, and the CERFP was not immune.
"The JISCC will be able to solve a lot of those problems from both a broadband network and radio communications standpoint, both of which can be really key during an emergency response," he said.
The JISCC trained with the CERFP Jan. 21. According to Tech. Sgt. Eric Anderson, noncommissioned officer in charge of the JISCC, the event was a valuable opportunity to view CERFP operations first hand and offer suggestions on how the JISCC could enhance methods currently used to accomplish their mission.
"Some of [the requirements] are extremely different from what we do day-to-day," Anderson said — assignment to the JISCC is an additional duty for his team members. "As a base function we have nothing to do with satellite communications, but it's a major portion of the JISCC, so it's been a tremendous learning tool."
As an integral component of the CERFP, the JISCC can now be tasked to respond to disasters in which local emergency response capacity has been exceeded. Their ability to establish critical communication functions will greatly enhance connectivity and interoperability in a potentially contaminated environment.
In order to maintain a high level of readiness, JISCC members will undergo refresher training on a monthly basis and are already scheduled for three joint CERFP exercises in 2015.