ASPA upgrades communications

Source: ASDHS media release

Tafuna, AM SAMOA — American Samoa Department of Homeland Security (ASDHS) is pleased to announce the completion of a 3-day Communications Unit Leader (COML) Course by two ASPA representatives: Radio Technician/Operator Brenda Tevaga-Feero and Radio/SCADA Technician Pene Vaisagote.

The COML Course is a service offering designed for all state/territory, tribal regional, and local emergency response professionals and for support personnel with a communications background.  The aim of the Course is to familiarize these professionals with the role and responsibilities of a COML under the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Incident Command System (ICS) and to provide hands-on exercises that reinforce the lecture materials.  The Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) and FEMA/Emergency Management Institute (EMI) offer this course jointly as “L969, All-Hazards Position Specific Communications Unit Leader.

Under the NIMS ICS structure, a COML is the focal point within the Communications Unit.  This course provides DHS-approved and NIMS-compliant instruction to ensure that every state/territory has trained personnel capable of coordinating on-scene emergency communications during a multi-jurisdictional response or planned event.  OEC/Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program (ICTAP) instructors are approved by USDHS and have had extensive experience both as emergency responders and as COMLs.

The course is presented with facilitated lectures, hands-on activities and extensive interactive discussions.  OEC/ICTAP instructors work through the discussions and activities to explain in detail the processes used to achieve communication operability, interoperability, and how to incorporate additional communications solutions.

The course offering is through a technical assistance request submitted by the ASDHS to either FEMA/EMI or OEC with verification of the selected candidates by the local Statewide Interoperable Coordinator (SWIC).  It is by invitation only with all expenses paid for by the federal government.

Tevaga-Feero and Vaisagote are the most recent candidates representing American Samoa first responders that have attended and completed a COML Course in a decade.  Notably, Tevaga-Feero is the first female to join this specialized technical area of expertise in radio communications.

Prior to the COML Course, Radio/SCADA Supervisor Kesi Kuki, and Radio Technicians/Operators Brenda Tevaga-Feero and April Esera all of ASPA attended two separate 5-day COMT Courses held in Albuquerque, New Mexico in March 2016 and Honolulu, Hawaii in September 2017 respectively.  The same individuals completed all the required prerequisite NIMS/ICS Courses as part of the selection process for the COMT and COML Courses.  The most important and final requirement that will promulgate certification for this training process is the completion of the individual position Task Book, which must be acknowledged and certified by the SWIC.

ASDHS Director Samana Semo Ve’ave’a expresses a big fa’amalo and fa’afetai to the ASPA Chief Executive Officer Utu Abe Malae for his continued partnership and collaboration in programs that are mutually beneficial to our personnel and operations.  We are all very proud of the accomplishments and contributions by the four toward building our local capacity in radio communications, which is a key component to emergency operations.

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