Instructor-Led Training

SEARCH makes accessing public safety and emergency communications training easy—we bring it right to you. 

SEARCH is an official member of the Contractor Support Team for the Office of Emergency Communications’ Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program (OEC/ICTAP).  SEARCH staff meets or exceeds OEC and FEMA instructor qualifications, and we provide many of the workshops and courses offered within the OEC Technical Assistance Catalog. 

Some circumstances in which your organization may want to consider requesting OEC/ICTAP offerings directly from SEARCH include:

  • Your State has exhausted its ICTAP funds but still needs training or assistance workshops
  • Your State wants to preserve its scarce ICTAP funds for other offerings
  • Your organization does not have access to ICTAP funds

SEARCH’s training:

  • Follows the OEC and FEMA instructor qualification and training guidelines
  • Is delivered by a highly experienced team of public safety experts
  • Provides all course materials (workbooks, CDs, exercises, exams) and administrative support for state-sponsored courses
  • Can sometimes be delivered at no-cost to you

We ask that you provide:

  • Adequate facilities (detailed facility needs will be provided upon request)
  • Qualified trainees (student prerequisites may vary by course)
  • A point of contact for local logistical support

Click these topic areas for short descriptions of the training and assistance that SEARCH can provide. Full course descriptions and any applicable student prerequisites are listed in the OEC/ICTAP Technical Assistance Catalog.

Assessment of Governance Structures

This workshop provides a comprehensive assessment of the organizations, structures, and other decision-making bodies in place or to be developed that are tied to interoperable communications in the requesting jurisdiction. It includes identifying the governance bodies, reviewing related documentation, and identifying areas of overlap, duplication, or potential for confusion over authority, roles, and responsibilities, along with suggested actions to resolve such issues. 

COMU Planning and Policies

This workshop demonstrates the tools and best practices to develop a strategic plan to implement State/Territory-, local- and regional-level initiatives and to improve policies and procedures for managing ongoing development of ICS Communications Unit (COMU) personnel and COMU assets. It is aimed at mid- to senior-level managers across all public safety disciplines to increase awareness and understanding of the COMU functions, develop a strategic plan, and create policies to improve use and management of personnel and equipment. 

Development of Governance Documentation

This workshop provides a review of existing/proposed governance documents, assistance with developing new governance documents, and a review of current processes for developing, revising, and storing governance documents, and recommendations for improvements.  There are a wide variety of documents associated with governance, including formal statutory, legislative, or executive orders establishing governance structure and bodies. Other documents include bylaws, charters, memorandum of understanding (MOU), and mutual aid agreements (MAA). Participants are provided with templates and samples for developing formal charters, MOUs, MAAs, frequency/radio system sharing agreements, or other agreements for governance groups. 

Development of Governance Structure Models

This workshop explores models for developing governance structures, strategies, and decision-making systems. It also covers how to provide support to committees, and/or working groups responsible for the ongoing planning and implementation of interoperable communications initiatives. This workshop is for mid- and senior-level public safety managers whose responsibilities include interoperable emergency communications. 

Follow-up Statewide Planning Workshop

This workshop is for those who need further assistance in developing plans for specific initiatives and challenges identified in Statewide Communication Interoperability Plans (SCIPs), beyond the scope of workshops OEC offers on a rotating basis. Depending on the requestor’s focus, this workshop lasts one to two days. The planning for initiatives beyond those of an annual SCIP workshop includes developing industry-standard project plan(s) for various initiatives, and establishing milestones and work breakdown activities. While this workshop focuses on initiatives and challenges in an individual State/Territory’s SCIP, it also complements and provides a planning foundation for a Strategic Communications Migration Plan (SCMP). 

Public Safety Communications Project Management

Public safety communications projects tend to be very expensive, of long duration and resource-intensive. They frequently involve operational and policy areas that go well beyond the technology aspects of upgrading or implementing new radio systems. It is not uncommon for public safety project managers without prior experience in managing such efforts to be assigned to LMR interoperability and technology projects. SEARCH staff will work with you to design this workshop to ensure its focus is on issues of concern to State and local government officials and senior departmental policy makers. 

Assessment of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)/Communications Plans

This workshop provides an independent third-party assessment of existing or proposed SOPs or Communications Plans. SEARCH staff evaluates your procedures or plans and the results of the SOP/Communications Plan Assessment are detailed in a report that documents strengths, concerns, and areas for improvement. The assessment report also includes recommendations designed to resolve identified gaps, improve the applicability and functionality of the procedures/plans, and enhance regional interoperable communications response capabilities. 

Public Safety Communications Centers’ Continuity of Operations Plan

The core mission of a Public Safety Communications Center (PSCC), both public safety answering points and dispatch centers, is to serve as the community’s point of access to public safety resources and as a resource to first responders. PSCCs provide communications links, information, and additional resources.  PSCC policies and directives should address emergency continuity of operations planning (COOP) in preparation for all hazards events and other circumstances that affect their facility. COOP ensures continuity of essential functions across a wide range of emergencies and events. PSCCs have a responsibility to provide uninterrupted essential services to the public, regardless of circumstances. The length of this workshop can be tailored to meet the site’s requirements. 

Development of Standard Operating Procedure/Communications Plans

A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a set of instructions that address the who, what, where and when of an activity. SOPs facilitate an orderly and efficient response to events ranging from routine incidents like traffic accidents and house fires to catastrophic events ranging from an active shooter near public venues to catastrophic natural disasters that occur with little or no warning. In many cases, SOPs are designed to facilitate cross-discipline and cross-jurisdiction operations on a day-to-day or emergency basis. In this workshop, participants are provided with examples, models, and templates used for creating various types of SOPs. 

Auxiliary Communications Workshop

This course is designed for those auxiliary emergency communicators and groups who volunteer to provide backup emergency radio communications support to public safety agencies. Typically this includes amateur radio and Radio Emergency Associated Communications Team (REACT) communicators, but may include other volunteer emergency communicators. Nearly all States/Territories have incorporated some level of participation by amateur radio auxiliary communication operators into their Tactical Interoperable Communications Plans (TICPs) and SCIPs. This course is intended to supplement and standardize an operator’s experience and knowledge of emergency amateur radio communications in a public safety context. 

NIMS ICS All-Hazards Position-Specific Communications Unit Leader Course (E969)

This course is designed for all State/Territory, tribal, regional, and local emergency response professionals and support personnel with a communications background. It covers the role and responsibilities of a COML under the NIMS ICS and provides hands-on exercises that reinforce the lecture materials. OEC offers this course jointly with FEMA/EMI, as “E969, NIMS ICS All Hazards Communications Unit Leader.” Under the NIMS ICS structure, a COML is the focal point within the COMU. This course provides DHS-approved and NIMS-compliant instruction to ensure that every State/Territory has trained personnel capable of coordinating on-scene emergency communications during a multi-jurisdictional response or planned event. 

NIMS ICS All-Hazards Position-Specific Communications Unit Leader Train-The-Trainer (E/L949)

This course helps States/Territories- create a self-sustaining COML training program by providing instructor training to individuals who have completed the COML training at the Unit Leader level. This course helps attendees develop essential core competencies required for teaching the COML course within their own organization or State. The course supports learning through discussion, lecture, and participation in multiple activities and provides a realistic, hands-on approach to mastering the skills of instructing the COML course. 

NIMS ICS All-Hazards Communications Unit Technician Course

This course introduces public safety professionals and support staff to various communications concepts and technologies, including interoperable communications solutions, LMR communications, satellite, telephone, data, and computer technologies used in incident response and planned events. Participants develop the essential core competencies required to perform COMT duties in an all-hazards incident, including responsibilities while operating in a local, regional, or State-level All-Hazards Incident Management Team. It is designed for State/Territory, tribal, urban, and local emergency response professionals and support personnel in all disciplines who have a technical communications background. 

Communications Unit Technician Train-The-Trainer Course

This course helps attendees develop the core competencies required to teach the COMT course within their own organization or State. The course provides a realistic, hands-on approach to mastering the skills of instructing the COMT course.  Participants must demonstrate a working knowledge of interoperable communications and ICS through experience and training and must be experienced in delivering adult education. 

Communications Unit Integration into the National Incident Management System/Incident Command System 

This workshop focuses on addressing communications-specific needs during an operational period, and on the requirements for the COMU planning process for subsequent operational periods. It is designed to give an overview of the ICS for emergency response and support personnel tasked with implementing the NIMS ICS principles, organization, and functions. 

Principles of Interoperability and the NIFOG

This workshop familiarizes participants with the basics of mobile radio technology rules affecting public safety for terrestrial, aviation, and maritime channels. It explains how the NIFOG relates to interoperability, whether from a national, statewide, or regional perspective. It discusses the content and use of the NIFOG for response-level interoperable communications under different scenarios. It discusses national interoperability channels and offers assistance on how to incorporate those into planning for interoperable emergency communications at local levels. 

Introduction to Interoperable Radio Operations

This workshop is for professionals and volunteers who work in public safety but not directly in emergency communications. Individuals who will benefit from this workshop are those who may need a deeper understanding and some practical knowledge of interoperable radio communications. For example, firefighters, law enforcement support personnel, and volunteer auxiliary emergency communicators, among others, will benefit from a better understanding about public safety interoperable and emergency communications. 

Operational Communications Assessments

All operable and interoperable communications must be efficient and intuitive in order to be effective tools for public safety responders and communications specialists. Operational communications assessments, therefore, ensure that proposed or in-place technologies, plans, and procedures enhance and support operations. SEARCH staff can assess emerging tools in the specific environment of the requesting State/Territory, tribal, regional, or urban area agency to measure the likelihood of a responder/dispatcher’s success in using those tools in an event or incident. 

Planning for Backup Communications Options

Public safety communications systems are critical infrastructure, heavily relied on during day-to-day operations and with increased demand during large-scale incidents or events. The potential for partial or complete failure or insufficient coverage or capacity during large-scale events needs to be addressed through a thorough pre-planning process. This workshop offers assistance with planning for backup communications solutions. Following the advance collection of the necessary data on infrastructure and available resources, SEARCH will provide an on-site workshop that is tailored to meet the unique needs and environment of the requesting jurisdiction or agency. 

Communications Unit Exercise

In this training, an OEC/ICTAP-approved instructor collaborates with public safety personnel from a State/Territory, region, or urban area to design, facilitate, and conduct a Communications Unit Exercise (COMMEX). This training follows the Communications Unit Leader (COML) and Communications Unit Technician (COMT) training courses. It provides an opportunity for COML and COMT trainees to demonstrate proficiency and complete requirements in the respective Position Task Books (PTB). 

Communications–Focused Exercise Design

This workshop provides public safety communications and exercise design specialists an opportunity to learn how to incorporate communications into operations-based and discussion-based public safety exercises. It stresses voice and data communications and discusses how best to build these components into exercises of all varieties. All discussions are framed within the guidelines of the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP). 

Communications-Focused Executive Tabletop Exercise

Large-scale incidents can result in long-term physical, economic, social, political, psychological, and environmental impacts on a region. To ensure effective response to and recovery from such an incident, senior public safety executives need an understanding of communications resources and training in order to coordinate a multiagency response.

In this workshop, SEARCH staff collaborates with public safety executives and elected/appointed officials in a State/Territory, tribe, region, or urban area to design, facilitate, and evaluate a communications-focused EXTTX that is tailored to their specific needs. 

Communications-Focused Functional Exercise

In this training, a SEARCH Exercise Design Team (EDT) collaborates with public safety professionals from the requesting area to design, facilitate, and evaluate a communications-focused Functional Exercise (FE). This exercise complies with HSEEP guidelines and is aligned with ESF #2 (Communications). During this exercise, participants demonstrate their ability to use regional communications assets in a large-scale incident scenario, but the movement of personnel and equipment is simulated. An FE is an excellent follow-on exercise to a TTX and a training lead-in to a Full Scale Exercise (FSE). It is typically a one-day, on-site event with three one-day planning sessions. 

Communications-Focused Full-Scale Exercise

This training helps a requestor plan for and assess interoperable emergency communications capabilities during execution of an FSE. Although communication is one of several capabilities included in an exercise scenario, interoperable communications are frequently not an evaluation focus, and gaps in this area may be overlooked in exercise reports. FSEs are often large multi-agency, multi-discipline, multi-jurisdictional exercises designed to test many facets of emergency response and recovery operations. SEARCH staff will assist the local EPT to plan and develop an annex to the documentation for the FSE to integrate interoperable communications into the exercise. 

Mobile Communications Unit Support

This workshop is designed to improve the use, management, and operation of MCUs. SEARCH staff will provide guidance on developing concept of operations (CONOPS) plans for managing and operating mobile communication resources. In addition, SEARCH staff can review the policies and procedures for operating MCUs, documentation and categorization of capabilities, SOPs for equipment operation, and training plans to keep Technical Specialists and Communications Unit Technicians proficient in MCU communications operations. 

Public Safety Communications Center Operations Workshop

This workshop is designed to help Public Safety Communications Center (PSCC), both PSAPs and dispatch centers, supervisors and managers assess operations and readiness as they relate to call processing and interoperable communications capabilities. It also will involve and benefit law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services (EMS), and emergency management agencies using PSCC services. The workshop focuses on PSCC procedures to effectively process and disseminate information for public safety response and the capability to effectively establish interoperable or response-level emergency communications with other jurisdictions, disciplines, and agencies. 

Communications-Focused Special Event/Pre-Event Planning Support

Planned special events such as national/international sporting events, civic festivals, large conventions, or political summits can involve dozens of public safety agencies from multiple disciplines and jurisdictions. They typically present significant challenges to establishing and maintaining appropriate interoperable communications. Large-scale planned events, therefore, require substantial operational planning and preparation to coordinate all public safety participants to ensure that the event proceeds smoothly, and to prepare to respond to related incidents. In this training, SEARCH staff will collaborate with public safety professionals in a State/Territory, tribal, regional, or urban area during the planning and execution phases of planned special events. 

Strategic Technology Reserve Emergency Management Assistance Compact

This training provides a forum and a centralized process for State-level officials involved in EMAC deployments to coordinate with counterparts in other States (neighboring only or region-wide plus other States) on strategic reserve technologies and personnel potentially available during natural disasters or incidents. SEARCH staff will help State officials on processes and techniques for easily maintaining EMAC data and show how the resulting tool can be cross-referenced and maintained in Communications Plans, SOPs and other references. SEARCH will show how SWICs can use this reference to support elected/appointed officials. 

Communications-Focused Training and Exercise Plan Workshop

A communications-focused TEPW provides requestors with an opportunity to translate State/Territory, local, regional, and tribal goals and priorities into specific training and exercise objectives. The TEPW complies with HSEEP guidelines and complements an area’s overall training and exercise plan, if already developed.  A completed TEPW prioritizes communications training and exercise needs for the area and helps align them with Federal and State guidance. This workshop develops the TEPW based on an assessment of regional training and exercise needs. 

Communications-Focused Tabletop Exercise

In this training, SEARCH staff collaborates with public safety and public service professionals from a State/Territory, tribe, region, or urban area to design, facilitate, and evaluate a communications-focused tabletop exercise (TTX). This exercise will follow the HSEEP guidelines and is aligned with ESF #2 (Communications) and the DHS guidance on capabilities. A TTX is discussion-based, usually one day in duration with two one-day planning conferences. It is designed to evaluate communications plans, policies, and procedures, and to assess communications systems needed to prevent, respond to, and recover from an emergency incident scenario. SEARCH tailors the scenario to the requesting area’s needs. 

Tactical Interoperable Communications Field Operations Guide Development

This training is designed to help requestors develop Tactical Interoperable Communications Field Operations Guides (TIC-FOG). Based on the OEC National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (NIFOG), the TIC-FOG is a compendium of interoperable communications reference material for use by emergency response and communications personnel responsible for establishing and maintaining interoperable communications during events or incidents. The TIC-FOG is designed as a pocket-sized quick reference guide that radio operators and technicians can carry at all times. 

Tribal Special

Native American public safety agencies are a special focus and assistance is tailored to the specific tribal public safety agency’s requirements. For example, an introduction to NIMS may also benefit from COMT and COML workshops at the same time. SEARCH will provide tribal requestors with a team of interdisciplinary staff who can assist and support in evaluating legacy LMR systems and assess the need for upgrades or replacements; drafting statements of work/statements of requirements for procurements relating to new radio and data communications systems; establishing high-level objectives, milestones, and metrics for interoperable emergency communications projects; consulting on policies and procedures for tribal emergency notifications policies and tools; and planning the integration of broadband technologies into public safety operations in Indian Country. 

Karen Lissy

Ms. Karen Lissy is a Justice Information Services Specialist for the Law and Policy Program of SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. In this position, she provides assistance to state and local justice and public safety agencies to collect, curate, and use National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data and computerized criminal history record (CCH/CHRI) information for policy analysis and development.

She also guides justice and related organizations in how to craft and implement laws, policies, practices, and technology applications to effectively collect and use CCH and related justice/public safety data; address legal, policy, and regulatory issues associated with CCH data; better manage and operate criminal justice information and identification systems; and develop security and privacy policies that protect justice information sharing systems.

Ms. Lissy has nearly two decades of research and data analysis experience, having led projects and tasks in support of two agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (the Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Institute of Justice), as well as the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, and multiple foundations, including Ford, Annie E. Casey, and Hewlett. Prior to joining SEARCH in October 2020, Ms. Lissy served as a Social Science Researcher at RTI International, as a regional Crime Analyst for the Redmond (WA) Police Department, and as Director of a research program with the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. Beginning in 2012, Ms. Lissy’s work has focused on improving data in law enforcement to answer policy questions and improve community/police relations.

Ms. Lissy earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Duke University, and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Michael Mackay

Mr. Michael Mackay is an Information Sharing Developer for SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. As part of the Software and Data Engineering Program (SDEP) team, he plans, develops, implements, and deploys information sharing systems on behalf of SEARCH clients in local, state, tribal, and Federal government settings. He also provides programming, configuration, and testing assistance, and consults on implementation architecture and design with clients. 

Mr. Mackay supports justice, public safety, and homeland security information sharing nationwide through SDEP services that include software architecture and systems design, application development, deployment and support, data management services, and direct technical assistance and training. These services offer capabilities that include federated query, authentication access/control, subscription/notification, process/workflow automation, data analysis, and more. 

Prior to joining SEARCH in 2021, Mr. Mackay worked as a Software Engineering Intern for TDM Business Toole Suite, where he provided software development support using Java frameworks, implemented relational database models using MySQL, and designed GUI components using NetBeans. 

Mr. Mackay will work in an Agile development environment, a methodology that SEARCH embraces that focuses on incremental development and delivery, collaboration in a team approach, and rapid and flexible response to change throughout the development cycle. 

Mr. Mackay earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics and Statistics from Stony Brook University, New York.