What is the Communications Unit?
The Communications Unit (COMU) is a key supportive organization within the Incident Command System (ICS) which establishes a standardized approach to the command, control and coordination of on-scene incident management. It currently falls under the Service Branch in the Logistics Section of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). Logistics Section personnel provide services and support for effective and efficient incident management.
The COMU focuses on the communications portion of emergency response, such as assisting with the development of communications plans to be used by emergency personnel during an incident or event. The Communications Unit Leader (COML) is the head of a COMU. Other positions within the COMU include Communications Technician (COMT), Incident Communications Center Manager (INCM), Incident Tactical Dispatcher (INTD), and Technical Specialist (THSP).
Wisconsin follows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Emergency Communications Division (ECD) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) national All-Hazards training curriculum for positions requiring task book training within the Communications Unit.
Communications Unit Recognitions Program
The Wisconsin Communications Unit Recognitions Program Wisconsin was first created in 2013 through a Technical Assistance offering from the U.S. DHS/CISA/ECD that established standard operating guidelines for recognizing individuals who have completed their All-Hazards Position Task Book.
On November 21, 2019, the Interoperability Council (IC) approved the most recent version of the WI COMU program Standard Operating Guidelines (SOG).
The updated version of the SOG establishes:
- an exercise and event review process for task book sign-off opportunities.
- endorsement requirements to serve as a task book evaluator.a recognition renewal process.
- Follow the link below for the 2020 Wisconsin Communications Unit Standard Operating Guidelines.
Communications Unit Workgroup
In February 2017, the IC updated the mission and responsibilities of its Land Mobile Radio (LMR) Subcommittee by-laws to include a recognition process for communications positions within the ICS structure. The Communications Unit Workgroup (COMU WG) was created to serve as the body of communications experts to ensure the professional credibility and maintain the highest standards for the various communications unit training and recognition processes.
The COMU WG is composed of the following members. Click here for the current roster.
- Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC) or DMA/OEC designee
- 6-8 subject matter experts (SMEs) who possess a high level of operational and/or training experience in the COMU field, are recognized as a COMT or COML, and are approved by the Interoperability Council
- Representative(s) from Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) with responsibilities in the areas of training and emergency communications
- Region 5 Coordinator for US DHS/CISA/ECDOEC support staff
The SWIC will nominate the SMEs to the Interoperability Council for approval.
The SWIC or DMA/OEC designee will serve as the permanent chair of the WG.
COMU Recognition Process
1 ) The steps listed below are required to obtain entry-level recognition within the State of Wisconsin for position-specific roles within the Communications Unit.
Candidates should create an account in the WEM Training Portal. All-hazards specific training certificates of completion can then be uploaded and saved to your account.
2 ) Candidates must successfully complete all-hazards position-specific training.
- The WEM Training Portal includes a schedule of upcoming training events.
- Starting January 1, 2020, WEM will be able to send email updates for training opportunities directly to all-hazards personnel that are interested in acquiring recognition in Wisconsin. To receive these email notifications, you must sign up for WEB EOC updates. Sign up for WEB EOC by contacting your local County Emergency Management team.
3 ) Following training, candidates must complete the applicable Position Task Book (PTB) and other requirements listed in the SOG ver.3.0.
- COMU positions have a corresponding PTB that is distributed following a position-specific training.
- PTBs must be started within 18 months of the all-hazards position specific training course.
- PTBs must be initiated by the appropriate official from the sponsoring agency.
- A trainee has three (3) years to complete and submit their PTB and supporting.
4 ) Candidates must submit the request for recognition along with all required documentation described in the SOG ver.3.0 to the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) for review by the COMU WG.
See SOG ver.3.0-Appendix I-Initial Position Recognition Application Packet for more information on the process and a complete list of requirements.
5 ) The COMU WG will review the candidate’s documentation to determine eligibility for recognition in accordance with the SOG ver.3.0. The candidate may be asked to provide additional information or documentation if necessary.
6 ) If eligibility is confirmed by the COMU WG, the candidate’s application packet and appropriate recommendation documentation will be submitted to the LMR Subcommittee for consideration and recognition.
7 ) After initial recognition is obtained, the candidate must comply with the provisions contained in SOG ver.3.0 to maintain and renew the recognition status for the desired Communications Unit positions to ensure active participation.
Position Task Books (PTBs)
Position Task Books or PTBs are used to evaluate a position-specific trainee (COML, COMT, INTD, etc.) against written guidelines provided in each PTB. Most COMU positions have a corresponding PTB that is distributed following a position-specific training. Exercises and planned events require prior review and approval by the Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC) or authorized designee.
Effective January 1, 2021, the person signing off on the tasks performed in PTBs must be an evaluator or final evaluator as authorized by the COMU WG and be present at the event to personally witness the trainee performing the tasks.
Evaluator – An Evaluator is an individual that is responsible for evaluating a Trainee completing one or more tasks within a PTB. The Evaluator must be qualified in the position they are evaluating or be qualified in a position that supervises that position in the ICS.
Final Evaluator – The Final Evaluator is the Evaluator who has witnessed the work product of the trainee and is signing the verification statement at the front of the PTB after all tasks have been completed. The Final Evaluator must be qualified and proficient in the position being evaluated, as recognized by the COMU WG through the application process. A Final Evaluator must be a state-recognized COML and COMT. The qualifications to become a Final Evaluator are more rigorous than that of an Evaluator. The difference is necessitated due to the increased responsibility of the Final Evaluator and the increased depth of knowledge and understanding of the position being evaluated that only a qualified individual may possess.
For additional information regarding the evaluator endorsement program, refer to the COMU WG SOG ver.3.0 – Appendix K-Communications Unit Standard Operating Guidelines Position Task Book Evaluator and Final Evaluator Endorsement Application.
WI Recognized COMU Personnel Please click the link above for a current list of recognized COMU personnel in the state of Wisconsin. This list also contains information for all current PTB Final Evaluators.
Communications Assets and Survey Mapping (CASM)
The Communication Assets Survey and Mapping Tool (CASM), offered by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program (ICTAP), is the primary resource nationwide for the emergency communications community to inventory and share agency, asset, and Communications Unit information, for the purpose of planning public safety communications operability and interoperability.
In late 2019, the Department of Military Affairs (DMA) Office of Emergency Communications (OEC), in conjunction with the Communications Unit Workgroup (COMU WG), started to develop a CASM Account User Policy for the State of Wisconsin. The purpose of the policy is to define administration, account creation, rules for data entry, and maintenance of information related to CASM for the State of Wisconsin. In July 2020, the Wisconsin CASM Account User Policy 2020 was approved by the Interoperability Council.
Included in the policy: