Wisconsin holds annual mobile communications testing exercise

The Wisconsin National Guard and Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) hosted on May 15 the annual State Interoperable Mobile Communications (SIMCOM) exercise in Oshkosh, Wis.

More than 100 agencies joined the event, which tested the mobile communication skills of local, state, federal, tribal, private and volunteer organizations. The goal of the event was to improve coordination and cooperation in the event of a real emergency.

"The ability to communicate in a crisis is critical," Tod Pritchard, the public information officer for WEM, said. "SIMCOM helps Wisconsin Emergency Management and other agencies test their ability to share voice and data information in situations where phone and Internet services are down and communities are cut off from the world outside the disaster."

The participating organizations were given scenarios to practice during the daylong event. Participants were allowed to test whether their mobile communications systems were working, in order to give them time to fix non-functioning communication devices before a tornado, flood or other emergency situation.

"It's a good idea to be prepared," Linda Kollman, the Winnebago County emergency management director, said. "I think working out communication issues before a disaster occurs is very beneficial to everyone."