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MEOC bridges communication gaps

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton
  • 182nd Airlift Wing
It might look like a camping trailer being towed behind a Ford F-550 diesel pickup, but this vehicle does more than one might imagine. The deceptive looking vehicle is known as a Mobile Emergency Operations Center. A MEOC is a self-contained unit that can sustain continuous operations for three to five days. The MEOC acquired by the 182nd Airlift Wing in December 2013 was recently put to the test during State Interoperable Mobile Communications Exercise 2014 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

SIMCOM 2014, held May 15, is a functional exercise designed to test the communications and data sharing interoperability of federal, state, county, tribal, volunteer, and private organizations. Over 20 agencies provided platforms to carry out tasks assigned to them through a Master Scenario Events List, which is basically a script, executed by the Simulation Cell. Illinois' MEOC was joined by Michigan's MEOC, which is operated by the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

Senior Master Sgt. Tim Foley, installation emergency manager for the
182nd Airlift Wing, was pleased with this first use of the MEOC in a
radio communications scenario.

"This being the first time out, I believe we proved to ourselves, as well as the military and civilian responders that participated, that we are very capable in communicating regardless of the frequency range. We were also able to help others to communicate through our radio bridging capability, which is a vital piece of interoperable communications during a major contingency," said Foley.

Foley's counterpart at the 127th Wing, Chief Master Sgt. R. Michael Carroll, was also excited to show Wisconsin's emergency managers how the MEOC is a valuable asset during a crisis or major event.

"The Air National Guard Mobile Emergency Operations Centers were designed with the intention of providing any needing agency a platform that could be set up and operational in 30 minutes. The MEOC with its robust communications suites can be used to provide command and control for any size incident," Carroll said.

An after action review was held at the conclusion of SIMCOM 2014, in which participants could voice the strong and weak points of the

exercise. Foley had his own observations of how his team performed.

"Overall, I believe this was a successful deployment of the MEOC. Anytime you can get out and interact with other ANG and ARNG units as well as civilian responders in this kind of environment, it is a big win for everyone. I think we taught as much as we learned, and if we were called to respond to natural or man-made disaster, we would all be better prepared," Foley said.

Local emergency management agencies requiring use of the MEOC do so by routing their request through the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, which then contacts the Illinois National Guard.