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Dave Ford, Branch Chief
The Communications Branch plays a large role in the development, deployment and maintenance of the communications and warning systems necessary to coordinate the disaster response needs of the state. It also develops and coordinates state and local warning and communications plans, to include the statewide Emergency Alert System and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services. The branch also provides and maintains communications and warning systems in the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC), county EOCs, other state agencies, field units, and field command centers.
Ohio EMA's communication resources include the Multi-Agency Communications System (MARCS). MARCS is a statewide 800 MHz trunked voice and data radio system incorporating state agency and non-state agency users. The system is currently deployed to all of the county emergency management agencies and four National Weather Service offices, providing the largest interoperable voice communication network in the state. The Communications Branch also maintains a separate emergency VHF voice network which consists of 26 county EMAs.
The Communications Branch currently provides technical support for the 11 Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association Interoperability vehicles.
Unit 1 Ross County
Unit 2 Geauga County
Unit 3 Hancock County
Unit 4 Portage County
Unit 5 Montgomery County
Unit 6 Athens County
Unit 7 Ashland County
Unit 8 Lucas County
Unit 9 Mercer County
Unit 10 Guernsey County
Unit 11 Franklin County
Overall, the branch is responsible for the statewide coordination of emergency communications during times of disaster and is responsible for the development and maintenance of warning and communication devices at 459 sites throughout the state and at the State of Ohio Emergency Operations Center.
The Facilities Section of the Communications Branch is responsible for and ensures that the facilities, equipment and technical systems of the State Emergency Operations Center and the building of Ohio EMA can perform day-to-day operations.
The Logistics Section of the Communications Branch manages the Special Projects grants program which is funded from the Emergency Management Performance Grants (EMPG) program. Over the past few years the Special Projects program has been focused on supporting the construction of Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) at the county level. In this manner the number of county EOC’s that meet the Ohio EMA construction criteria (established with FEMA) has been increased.
The Special Projects grants program has also provided funding in the past for warning sirens, Emergency Alert System equipment, EOC software, and communication and EOC equipment.
As part of the Logistics Section support for the Special Projects program, the Facility Engineer provides assistance during the grant application process, the design process and the construction monitoring phase.
The Logistics Section also provides logistical assistance in support of emergency conditions and maintains a resource database with information on emergency supplies and vendors for assistance to counties during emergencies. The Section also monitors and provides assistance for the usage of EMA owned resources such as sand bags for use during flood conditions and portable pumps and pipe to help supply potable water to flood impacted communities when necessary.