Telecommunicator Emergency Response Taskforce Exercise

Sheriff Scott Johnson met and welcomed all the TERT members participating and stated, "Pacific County is pleased to be involved in an exercise of this magnitude and is grateful for the assistance provided and the opportunity to participate".

In the aftermath of man-made and natural disasters that devastated many areas of our country, public safety communications centers have faced tremendous challenges. One of the greatest challenges was maintaining adequate staffing levels of the involved communications centers. To address this problem the associations of APCO International and the National Emergency Number Association joined hands to develop the Telecommunicator Emergency Response Taskforce (TERT). TERT involves a comprehensive program that has led to the establishment of predetermined and selected trained teams of individuals who can be mobilized quickly and deployed to assist communications centers during disasters or large incidents.

The Washington State TERT program deployed four telecommunicators and one team leader to Pacific County in support of Rod Run as an exercise event. Pacific County telecommunicators stood by as resource staff while the deployed fielded both 9-1-1 and officer generated calls for service in this first ever exercise using a real world incident.

As Cory Ahrens, the Washington State TERT Committee Chair, stated, "It would be impossible to simulate such an event and this has provided us with invaluable information and education." The TERT team assisted Pacific County in the entry and handling of over 700 law, fire, and EMS incidents throughout the weekend. TERT members responding in the exercise hailed from King County Sheriff's Office, NORCOM (Bellevue 9-1-1), CENCOM (Kitsap County 9-1-1), Okanogan County Sheriff's Office, and Spokane 9-1-1.

The exercise was successful in that both the deployed TERT members and the receiving agency, Pacific County, learned some invaluable lessons regarding what may happen during an actual event. As a result, both local and state plans will be revised and a "lessons learned" presentation will be provided other communications centers throughout the state. In addition, future exercises are being planned in order to test capabilities and additional identify areas for improvement.