SEARCH Assists in "Thunder Over Louisville" Tactical Interoperable Communications Exercise

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Pre-planning


Final TICP Coordination


Thunder Over Louisville


The Final Thunder
On April 22, Dan Hawkins, SEARCH Director of Public Safety Programs was lead evaluator on a Tactical Interoperable Communications Plan (TICP) exercise, which was held during a live event in Louisville, Kentucky.

Each April, Louisville hosts the first of more than 70 events that make up the two-week Kentucky Derby Festival season. "Thunder over Louisville" is a day-long air show capped with the largest annual fireworks show in North America. An estimated crowd of 800,000 gathered to enjoy the festivities, which also played host to a special guest this year: The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Office of Grants and Training.

Louisville is one of 77 metropolitan regions across the country required by DHS Fiscal Year 2005 grant funding to complete a Tactical Interoperable Communications Plan and exercise. Agencies in each of the regions had to develop a plan detailing how their police, fire, and emergency medical services (EMS) first responders would communicate among their different disciplines and jurisdictions during the first hours of future, large-scale emergencies. Louisville offered to be the first evaluated.

Mr. Hawkins was asked by the DHS Office of Grants and Training to be the lead evaluator. "City officials asked to have their annual 'Thunder of Louisville' event serve as a validation exercise," said Mr. Hawkins. "A team of 20 evaluators and observers camped out at Louisville's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and spread throughout the downtown area to document how well interagency communications came together during the event."

In support of the DHS Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program (ICTAP), SEARCH Public Safety Programs staff have been managing efforts to complete these tactical interoperable communications plans in many cities, as well as contributing their own subject-matter expertise. Beginning with Louisville, Mr. Hawkins and SEARCH Public Safety Technology Specialists John Walker and Ben Krauss will be part of multi-disciplinary teams being sent to each of the 77 metro areas to evaluate the plans through full-scale exercises, which are required by DHS by September 30, 2006. Mr. Walker served as manager of ICTAP technical assistance to Louisville, as well as spearheading assistance to them on an interoperability project funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) during the past year.