Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
The Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security hosted the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 7 Defense Coordinating Element’s monthly communications check July 7 in the Garrison Emergency Operations Center.
U.S. Army North is the military component that supports FEMA, which works to help people before, during and after disasters, according to fema.gov.
Staff Sgt. Alex Grimm, senior communications NCO for DCE, and Sgt. Iesha Smith, communications NCO for DCE, performed the communications check.
“This training … validates the communications equipment that will be used (during an emergency), and it also shows the capabilities that we have,” Grimm said. “It also brings opportunity for training to the local EOC guys and familiarization of what we have and what we bring to the table. … It’s face-to-face talking to where they know who we are and how we set up.”
Doug Cook, DPTMS chief of plans and operations, oversaw the communication check, which began with tornado sirens.
“The first Wednesday of every month, they check out all the communication equipment and (conduct) communications with higher headquarters, which is Army North in Fort Sam Houston, (Texas),” Cook said. “The bottom line is this. It does not matter what type of organization or unit you’re in, if you cannot talk and communicate both ways, things are not going to work out well. Communications are extremely vital. They are basically one of the first things that you establish in any type of event … because not only do you have to talk internally but externally and receive internally and receive externally.
“Instead of just staying down there in the (FEMA) … buildings, they like to and they need to get out to different locations because they have to face that satellite dish in a certain direction or directions,” he said. “They like to move around.”
Cook said that because FEMA has conducted checks at Fort Leavenworth before, they already knew that the EOC allowed DPTMS to help provide electrical power to the FEMA van if needed and they’d already know what to do if there was a natural disaster near Fort Leavenworth that FEMA would need to respond to.
“We would have a very good idea of just the basic necessities of what they need, so that they are, for the most part, self-sufficient and they can communicate, and they can help us communicate if needed,” Cook said. “It’s all about building viable and legitimate relationships not only with on-post personnel but with our off-post personnel.
“Regardless if it was FEMA Region 7 or any other local, state, county, federal entity that would want to come here and do whatever it is they want to do in regard to training, we’re going to do whatever we can to facilitate that,” he said. “Our welcome mat is out.”
Situations in which FEMA would potentially respond in the Fort Leavenworth area could include tornados or earthquakes, because of the proximity to the New Madrid fault line, Cook said. FEMA has previously participated in exercises and training on post.