COVID-19 Checklist with Guidance and Recommendations

We appreciate your overwhelming support as we’ve implemented the extensive measures necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19. There’s never been a time like this in recent history - we’re moving forward, committed to putting our public safety partners first.

Our mission is serving the public safety community, we are dedicated to protecting the wellness of our partners and the residents of Michigan. That means that we’re meeting all guidance given by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), while prioritizing your needs with a strong, detailed plan to ensure that business remains as smooth as possible.

You may already be familiar with some of these efforts, including having most of our MPSCS team members working from home. While our approaches have identified some unexpected changes, we are 100 percent committed to ensure all of our systems readiness to assist Michigan’s first responders.

Whether we all meet in person or over a digital connection, what brings us together is the passion for the community. There is no better time than now to share a checklist with guidance and recommendations to help you navigate your preparedness.

The following information is designed to help you get prepared:

Communications Plans
Review existing communications plans or storm plans with the dispatch personnel, emergency managers and first responders.  Make certain the plans provide the communication networks necessary to respond specifically to a national pandemic, spanning across multiple geographical borders and jurisdictions.  Identify the Federal, State and Local agency that may be necessary to protect the health and safety of all personnel within your region.  Become familiar with your Regional Tactical Interoperability Communications Plan (TICP) and the Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan (SCIP).

Put the Communication Plans to the test
Organize an exercise to ensure the participants know what to do if the plans need to be activated.  Go through scenarios that could changes the communication requirements as the situation escalates or evolves.  This can be done as a table-top exercise, but a controlled live-exercise is recommended.  The best exercise will test the first responders and the communications equipment critical to implement the communications plans.  Verify the operational status of all backup communications systems that are not used daily.

Deployable Assets
Inspect all the deployable assets, such as, radio cache, Communications on Wheels (COW), Site on Wheels (SOW), mobile PTP microwave, satellite uplink trailer, portable generator trailers, etc.  Perform preventative maintenance as required.  Make certain there is enough fuel, oil, and power available for extended run times.  Check the condition of all batteries and their associated shelf life.  Have a plan to replenish these resources as required.  Try to utilize local assets first, before deploying the regional, state or federal assets. 

Available LTE Assets
Check-in with your commercial carriers/providers to find out what resources they have to offer and know the available timeline.  Get to know those contacts ahead of time and include them in your planning. 

Enhanced Push-to-Talk Cellular (EPTT)
Using Enhanced Push-to-Talk Cellular (EPTT) applications on cellular devices, while not mission-critical, can be an extremely useful way for responders to communicate, offering virtually instant group communications.  Most Michigan public safety agencies use Verizon, AT&T or FirstNet/AT&T, and all three provide EPTT service.

Consider using EPTT over LTE for COVID-19 response communications and become familiar with the web-based applications used to manage talk groups.

MPSCS WAVE
Motorola WAVE, Work Group Communications, is a communications interoperability and broadband push-to-talk (PTT) solution that delivers real-time voice securely over any network using smart devices that users already have on carrier networks they subscribe to. WAVE enables interoperable push-to-talk (PTT) communication between broadband smart devices and the MPSCS radio network.  As with other EPTT services, WAVE is not intended for mission-critical communications, but it could be an extremely useful way for responders, volunteers and others to communicate, offering virtually instant group communications.  
 
For more information on WAVE, check out our YouTube page: https://youtu.be/awQCbgdZ6O4
  
Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS) and the Wireless Priority Service (WPS)
Do you and your fellow responders have GETS/WPS? The Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS) and the Wireless Priority Service (WPS) programs are companion services for priority calling offered by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security (CISA). The services are intended to be used in an emergency or crisis when networks are congested and the probability of completing a normal call is reduced. There is no charge for GETS/WPS. For more information on GETS, WPS or TSP, contact the DHS Priority Telecommunications Service Center toll free at 866-627-2255, 703-676-2255, or via email at support@priority-info.com.
 
Request Resources Through ESF2
Because this pandemic has been declared a National Emergency, it’s imperative to work the NIMS ICS process, not only to ensure efficient response but also to document resources/ expenditures used during the effort.  The need for communication devices/services will only escalate, and demand could exceed supply.  The State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) has been activated in response to COVID-19. MPSCS is the lead agency for Emergency Support Function 2 (ESF2) – Communications.

For assistance with communications planning please email MSP-SEOCCOML@Michigan.gov.
To request communication equipment/services for the COVID-19 response, please submit resource requests through the Michigan Critical Incident Management System (MI CIMS). 
 
ADDITIONAL LINKS AND RESOURCES
Communication Assets Survey and Mapping (CASM) Tool
https://www.dhs.gov/safecom/casm-tool

Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program (ICTAP)
https://www.cisa.gov/interoperable-communications-technical-assistance-program

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Training and Education
https://training.fema.gov/

Michigan Statewide Communication Interoperability Plan (SCIP)
https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mpscs/Michigan_SCIP_Final_June_18_2014_484242_7.pdf

Michigan’s Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS)
https://www.michigan.gov/mpscs/

Equipment Checks

  • MPSCS subscriber radios and pagers
  • Confirm that all spare and cache radios and pagers have been charged. Turn equipment OFF while charging.  Replace any battery that indicates a charging error.  See owner’s manual.
  • Inspect antenna for cracks or broken contacts. Carefully inspect center pin on antenna and radio.  Replace as needed.  Snug antenna back onto equipment.
  • Verify battery contacts are clean on radios and batteries.
  • Power on each radio and pager and confirm that they stay on when squeezed and bumped.
  • Confirm that channel switch and buttons operate.

Stay safe and stay healthy!