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Connecting Vital Communication Resources to Save Lives in Emergencies is Focus of Tennessee Interoperability Gathering

Friday, August 10, 2018 | 10:21am

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Communication professionals from more than 50 local, state, and federal jurisdictions, and the private sector, will begin an intensive, four-day event on Mon., Aug. 13, 2018, at the Tennessee Army National Guard facility in Smyrna, Tenn., to exercise and train on deploying assets, equipment and personnel to support emergency disaster operations in Tennessee.

The communications exercise and training event, named the 2018 Tennessee Public Safety Interoperability Exercise/Vital Connections, will facilitate interoperability rehearsals, build relationships between jurisdictions and individuals, allow agencies to exercise personnel and equipment, and increase awareness among participants of the communications assets that exist in Tennessee and neighboring states.

“The more the Military Department works with other agencies, both state and federal, the better prepared we are to manage a crisis situation, “ said Maj. Gen. Max Haston, Tennessee’s Adjutant General. “Exchanging business cards at the scene of the disaster is never a good course of action. Communications is the key to success in both prevention and recovery. We must be able to communicate both in an analogue and digital world as well as face to face. These exercises always allow us to test both hardware as well as policies and procedures. They allow us to make updates and corrections as we move forward to the next exercise or actual event.”

Vital Connections will begin on Monday with a full-day communications leadership bootcamp for participants to learn about setting up and managing emergency communications operations among agencies and jurisdictions. On Tuesday, Aug. 14, organizers will lead participants through a communications exercise and demonstrations from resource providers and communications equipment vendors. Resource demonstrations and communications exercises continue on Wednesday, Aug. 15, and Thursday, Aug. 16, the event’s final day.

The nearly 130 exercise participants include communications professionals representing amateur radio organizations, communications equipment manufacturers, emergency management agencies, military operations, and public safety agencies. A full list of participating organizations is included with this release.

The Tennessee Advanced Communications Network (TACN), Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), Tennessee National Guard (TNG) and U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) are hosting and organizing the demonstrations and communications exercises for Vital Connections.

“The ability for the right people to talk to each other at the right time during an emergency is vital to saving lives,” said TEMA Director Patrick Sheehan. “Emergency management is a collaborative endeavor, and Tennesseans expect state, local or federal agencies to work as One Emergency Management. Much progress has been made in Tennessee and across the nation on building modern interoperable communications systems in the last 17 years; however, events like this forge close collaboration among emergency communications professionals that will improve coordination and allow for faster problem solving and deployment of capabilities.”


About the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency: TEMA’s mission is to coordinate preparedness, response and recovery from man-made, natural and technological hazards in a professional and efficient manner in concert with our stakeholders. Follow TEMA on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, and, at


Attachment:  2018 Vital Connections Participating Organizations.