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OEC Public Safety Tools Website Features New SEARCH-prepared Resources on ICS COMU Programs


The Public Safety Technical Assistance Tools Website, operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), features new documents prepared by SEARCH and posted in early 2013.

The new documents all focus on helping organizations set up and sustain Incident Command System (ICS) Communications Unit (COMU) Programs.

The DHS site features a wide range of materials contributed by its Office of Emergency Communications (OEC), SAFECOM and ICTAP, the Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program (see sidebar). SEARCH prepared the new resources under funding from DHS.

To find these new documents:

  • Select the “OEC Guidance Documents” option on the DHS site.
  • Type in COMU in the search window near the top of the screen
  • The site will filter and display the new COMU materials.

(For best results, download the MS Word and Excel templates to your computer before using.)

Featured are a best practices guide and six companion resource documents and templates.

Incident Command System (ICS) Communications Unit Implementation and Best Practices: A Guide for Program Development

This guide is designed to help organizations prepare to set up and sustain ICS COMU Programs at the local, regional, and state levels. It focuses on key elements, performance measures, and assessment from the perspective of enhancing existing COMU practices, policies, and procedures through to an advanced level of program implementation. This guide provides examples of states, regions, and local agencies around the nation that have demonstrated success in developing and managing specific COMU Program development efforts as part of broader goals and initiatives.

Incident Command System (ICS) Communications Unit Program Plan Outline 

This template serves to guide personnel charged with overseeing public safety communications projects, and who are responsible for establishing a COMU Program, to incorporate COMU positions into planning and response. It is intended to provide assistance with the development of the COMU Program Plan and the associated document sections.

Incident Command System (ICS) Communications Unit Response Kit 

This tool builds on the accomplishments of some states, regions, and local agencies in assembling information and materials into “Go Kits” and assigning them to recognized ICS COMU personnel so they can be prepared to respond. When faced with the professional and personal stressors of deployment, access to pre-assembled kits can be very useful for ICS COMU personnel. Use this tool within your agency as a baseline to gather information and materials into pre-assembled response kits for COMU personnel response.

Incident Command System (ICS) Communications Unit Sustainable Funding Strategy Tool

The PDF document provides instructions and illustrations on how to use the ICS COMU Program Sustainable Funding Strategy Tool—what to consider, who to engage, and what information to collect. The Excel template contains blank worksheets, which users can modify, plus sample worksheets containing fictitious data meant to illustrate the process.

Together, use these within your agency to conduct a sustainable funding cost estimate; conduct a review and analysis of funding sources; and outline a funding strategy to sustain your COMU Program.

Incident Command System (ICS) Communications Unit Program Assessment and Development Matrix

This template provides instructions and illustrations on how to use the COMU Program Assessment and Development Matrix—what to consider, who to engage, and what information to collect—and provides sample performance measures. Use this template within your agency to assess your ICS COMU Program and to plan for future development and/or maintenance. As a convenience to users, a second Word document provides a blank Matrix table that you may modify to meet specific organizational needs.

The OEC/ICTAP Public Safety Technical Assistance Tools Website features multiple links to Tools, Resources, and Training opportunities for public safety and emergency communications stakeholders. It’s considered a “one-stop shop” website.

Products prepared by SEARCH are featured under these links:

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