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Mobile Operations Center is a valuable resource

Posted: October 18, 2011 - 5:22pm  |  Updated: October 18, 2011 - 11:07pm
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Letting our citizens know about Columbia County's response capabilities in advance of emergencies and disasters is very important. Thank you for the opportunity to illuminate one of our more valuable resources; the Columbia County Mobile Operations Center (MOC).

Columbia County Emergency Management Agency secured the MOC in 2004, thanks to a Georgia Emergency Management/Office of Homeland Security grant. Since that time, the MOC has deployed to provide vital communications during emergencies, including a three-day deployment to Jefferson County following a devastating tornado that destroyed their communication links in March 2008.

The MOC is fully staffed and operated by EMA staff and 19 highly skilled volunteers, known as the MOC Team.

The MOC Team has been working very hard this year to upgrade the communication and radio systems using another GEMA/OHS grant, including, but not limited to, upgrading the satellite system, installing the latest interoperability module to provide better usage of phone to radio communications, upgrading two-way radios, upgrading the computer network for network powered devices, upgrading the desktop, notebook and server, and installed a new PBX server, which is completely configurable on-site for specific deployments.

Good timing will allow all of these new components to be tested when the MOC team heads to Cordele, Ga., to participate in a three-day statewide mobile unit communications exercise today through Friday.

In addition to Columbia County EMA, there will 23 agencies and departments from all across the state participating in this event, including the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Georgia State Patrol.

This exercise will provide us with a rare opportunity to test systems that we have not been able to test in local exercises, such as interoperability and interfacing capabilities with other similarly equipped vehicles during emergencies and disasters.

Another benefit of this exercise is that our participation will provide a "Communications Unit Leader" certification for Rusty Welsh, EMA deputy director, which is a program taught by the Office of Homeland Security, Office of Emergency Communications.

Our county is blessed to have the confidence of state officials who award the funds to obtain this magnitude of equipment, and we are doubly blessed to have the people who give their time and abilities to assure its readiness in times of emergency.

(Pam Tucker is director of the Columbia County Division of Emergency and Operations.)

 

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