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sm150506 O ZZ999 014OSHKOSH, Wis. — Communications are critical during a disaster. Getting information and data to the right people at the right time can save lives. That’s why the Wisconsin National Guard — along with Wisconsin Emergency Management, Winnebago County Emergency Management and Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office — hosted a multi-agency communications exercise.

State Interoperable Mobile Communications Exercise — or “SIMCOM-Vital Connection 2015” — was held May 5-7 at the Sunnyview Expo Center in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The exercise tested mobile emergency communications from more than 30 federal, state, tribal, local governments and volunteer agencies. The goal is to develop relationships and understand the capabilities of other agencies and their equipment before they are needed in a real emergency. Specific operations being tested this year included data sharing, radio frequency bridging and patching, and network failures.

“Testing communication interoperability capabilities with outside resources before an actual disaster event occurs is critical to ensure the highest level of response,” said Linda Kollmann, Winnebago County Emergency Management Director.
United States Northern Command participated in SIMCOM with communication assets from the 914th Communications Squadron as part of their “Vital Connection” exercise, which was incorporated into this year’s event. The Wisconsin National Guards Situational Awareness Team, or WINGSAT, also joined in.

“It is always challenging to do inter-agency communications,” said Staff Sgt. Johnny Ferreira of the Wisconsin Army National Guard. “This is a good opportunity to test our platform.”

This is the second year that SIMCOM is hosted by Winnebago County. It is the first time the event has been held over a three-day period, which included training from some of the nation’s top radio experts.

SIMCOM 2016 will take place in Clark County’s Neillsville, Wisconsin.