What is the Communications Unit?
The Communications Unit (COMU) is a key supportive organization within the Incident Command System (ICS) which establishes an adaptive, yet standardized approach for incident-based emergency response. It currently falls under the Service Branch in the Logistics Section of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) ICS. The first concept of a COMU was established by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) over the past thirty years.
The COMU focuses on the communications portion of emergency response (e.g. developing communications plans to be used by emergency personnel during an incident or event). The Communications Unit Leader (COML) is the head of a COMU and is often times the only member of a COMU depending on the type and size of an incident (see diagram). Other positions within the COMU include Incident Communications Center Manager (INCM), Communications Technician (COMT), Incident Tactical Dispatcher (INTD), and Technical Specialist (THSP).
Position Task Books (PTBs)
Position Task Books or PTBs are used to evaluate a position-specific trainee (COML, COMT, INTD, etc.) against written guidelines provided in each PTB. Most COMU positions have a corresponding PTB that is distributed following a position-specific training. A trainee is typically evaluated at two or more events/incidents by qualified evaluators in order to complete their PTB. A list of qualified evaluators for Wisconsin is available below.
Please click the links below for the latest versions of U.S. DHS PTBs:
Communications Unit Recognitions Program
The Communications Unit Recognitions Program was first created in 2013 through a Technical Assistance offering from the U.S. DHS/Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) that established standard operating guidelines for recognizing individuals who have completed their All-Hazards Position Task Book.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, the program became inactive shortly after inception until the Wisconsin Department of Justice - Interoperability Unit and several subject matter experts began a re-write of the standard operating guidelines in the summer of 2016.
On February 9th, 2017, the Interoperability Council approved the updated program and standard operating guidelines (version 2.0) to ensure there is cooperation, communication, and coordination amongst all participants. The updated program will also maintain a viable and effective Communications Unit recognitions system and will enhance the professional credibility of Type 4 and 5 position-specific roles.
For more information on recognition processes, please refer to the WI COMU Standard Operating Guidelines 2.0.
Communications Unit Workgroup
Under the WI COMU Standard Operating Guidelines 2.0, a Communications Unit Workgroup (COMU WG) was established to provide quality assurance reviews of pending applicants and make recommendations to the Land Mobile Radio (LMR) Subcommittee as authorized by the Interoperability Council.
The Workgroup is comprised of the Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), COMU subject matter experts, and a designated Wisconsin Emergency Management training officer. An official roster can be found here.
For more information on the Communications Unit Workgroup, please reference Appendix D of the WI COMU Standard Operating Guidelines 2.0.
Position Task Book (PTB) Evaluators
Effective January 1, 2021, the person signing off on the tasks performed in PTBs must be an evaluator or final evaluator as authorized by the COMU WG and be present at the event to personally witness the trainee performing the tasks.
For additional information regarding the evaluator endorsement program, refer to the COMU WG SOG ver.3.0 -Appendix K-Communications Unit Standard Operating Guidelines Position Task Book Evaluator and Final Evaluator Endorsement Application.
Please follow the link above for a current list of recognized all-hazards positions personnel in the state of Wisconsin. This list also contains information for all current PTB Final Evaluators.