Lafayette Group was selected to receive the D.C. HSEMA Action Award for its outstanding support during the 58th Presidential Inauguration. The team will be presented the award in March 2017.
In preparation for the Inauguration, the District of Columbia Interoperability Coordinator, Dave Mulholland, submitted a request for OEC ICTAP assistance to support the communications planning process. Assistance was requested for multiple key elements, including: development of a Communications Plan, conducting a Tabletop Exercise (TTX), Communications Unit training, and Engineering support. Several Lafayette Group Subject Matter Experts worked with other ICTAP representatives to support many of these initiatives. The Presidential Inauguration took place on Friday, January 20, 2017 and included a variety of related activities and events, both prior to and following January 20th.
The primary focus of support was the development of an overarching Communications Plan for the District of Columbia. Lafayette Group SMEs Dave Dato, Stephen Dice, Nancy Dzoba, and Randy Kerr were assigned to this work order and spent an extensive amount of time working with various public safety representatives, attending planning meetings, collecting information, and developing a set of comprehensive communications plan documents. With the inauguration only a few months away, combined with the complex and significant nature of this event, SMEs were kept busy assembling a vast amount of information in a relatively short time period.
The District of Columbia and the surrounding National Capital Region (NCR) host large scale planned events on a regular basis. The communications experience and expertise of personnel from the many participating agencies were clearly evident, and served as a valuable resource throughout the entire process. The planning structure for this event consisted of multiple committees, sub-committees, and specialized task groups, each responsible for key elements of the overall plan. The Communications Sub-Committee had roughly 120 members, representing agencies and organizations from the District, local (city/county), state, federal, and non-government jurisdictions.
ICTAP SMEs worked closely with members of the planning groups between September 2016 and January 2017, and developed a comprehensive communications plan document along with a quick reference aid for public safety personnel which contained key elements of the plan. For the first time, the District of Columbia implemented a new tiered plan for communications support. Using this process, communications issues were first addressed by each local agency’s communications technical experts, and if necessary, escalated to a Communications Unit Leader (COML) Help Desk position. During extreme instances, if communications issues could not be resolved at prior levels, they were escalated to the final point and addressed by Communications Coordinators (COMC).
ICTAP SMEs were asked to remain on site to observe communications support activities, and to provide any additional technical support during the inauguration events. On site observation was tied to another OEC ICTAP work order requested by the DC Interoperability Coordinator to support the development of a communications-focused after-action report (AAR). ICTAP SMEs observed with the positions of the COML Help Desk, the COMCs, and the Medical Command (MedCom) communications functions. SMEs also had an opportunity to observe operations within the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) Emergency Operations Center (EOC), the DC Fire logistics and staging area where cache radios and other equipment were issued, and with the FEMA Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) function which was staged at HSEMA.
There were very few communications issues that surfaced during the events. Those that did occur were quickly addressed by the appropriate personnel. Many key communications successes were identified during the planning process, along with several others tied to the operational execution of the plan during the events. The DC Interoperability Coordinator was extremely satisfied with how well communications went during all events, and was highly complimentary of the support he received through OEC ICTAP.