When we think mass casualty and disaster response, we immediately think of the positions of local first responders, emergency managers, search and rescue, and perhaps even the weather channel. But the backbone of effective disaster response and relief is communications. “In the aftermath of man-made and natural disasters that devastated many areas of our country, public safety communications centers have faced tremendous challenges. One of the greatest challenges was maintaining adequate staffing levels of the communications centers.” Think about it. What emergency responses can be coordinated, deployed, announced, or victims evacuated, sheltered, or disasters managed effectively on scene without communications?
To answer the need for trained and experienced telecommunicators to respond and react to a disaster, the Association of Public-Safety Officials (APCO), International and National Emergency Number Association (NENA) created a joint initiative; the National Joint TERT Initiative (NJTI) in 2006, with work culminating in the ANSI approved Standards for Model Recommendations for TERT Deployment (MRTD) in 2009. This effort sought to expand already existing individual state programs and provide training, support, and guidance to communications centers preparing for disasters. The TERT program is active in 18 states, with 25 other state programs currently in development.
“TERT involves a comprehensive program that includes assistance to individual states in developing programs that would lead to the establishment of predetermined and selected trained teams of individuals who can be mobilized quickly and deployed to assist communications centers during disasters.”
The TERT effort is in the process of being recognized by FEMA, for inclusion as a NIMS Job Title, with the agency releasing the NJTI developed standards as the “Proposed Model Recommendations for TERT” for public comment on May 1, 2014. Additionally, the FEMA library currently contains the APCO/NENA ANS 1.105.1-2009 standards, replacing the original FEMA Model Recommendations.
To see if your state is a participant, visit http://www.njti-tert.org/status.php
For the list of TERT State Contacts, visit: http://www.njti-tert.org/tert-contacts.php
If you are a telecommunications specialist in a participating state, and would like to deploy in response to a crisis, the FEMA IS-144 Telecommunicators Emergency Response Taskforce (TERT) Basic Course is a prerequisite. A copy of your certificate of completion must be sent to your state TERT coordinator.
To access the ANSI approved standards, click here.
Download the TERT Brochure: http://www.njti-tert.org/pdf/TERT_brochure.pdf
For information on developing a TERT Program in your State: http://www.njti-tert.org/state.php
To read deployment stories, visit: http://www.njti-tert.org/TERTDeploy.php
For more information on the TERT program, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
“As the public safety communications community prepares for future disasters, the APCO/NENA National TERT Joint Initiative (NJTI) recommends that communications centers be prepared for inoperable systems; as well as loss of power, security and personnel. In addition, communications centers should focus on training and planning for system restoration, multi-agency response and evacuation. APCO and NENA have signed a formal Memorandum of Understanding to establish the National Joint TERT Initiative and have copyrighted the TERT name, logo and related program components.”
For more information, please visit their website.