ECN training specializes in keeping up communication when it’s critical​​​​​

Sept. 7, 2023

​​​​​​​Training participants working with computers and radio equipment.Participants in an Emergency Communication Networks training prepare to send an email message over the radio.

A windstorm has knocked out cell towers and phone lines — but residents and emergency responders still need to communicate. That's where our Emergency Communication Networks (ECN) division comes in.

As first responders rely more upon new communications technologies to better serve you in an emergency, it becomes critical that those who specialize in keeping communication networks up and running are prepared for anything.

That's why ECN's Communications Unit worked with Minnesota National Guard, federal, state and local organizations to conduct a joint communication exercise last month at Camp Ripley. The exercise brought together emergency responders from across Minnesota to learn more about alternative communication methods and make sure agencies are ready to work together during a critical incident.

John Dooley, ECN's manager of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning Program and Communications Unit, le​d the training, encouraging participants to consider how they would communicate if their usual phone and internet networks are down.

“The biggest thing is seeing people work together for a common cause and keeping up communication when it's critical," Dooley said. “Practicing with these new technologies can save you precious time when a disaster hits."

Lindsay Stambaugh, emergency communications specialist for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, attended the training to get hands-on experience with emergency communications technology. She learned more about the technical side of communications, such as putting up a reserve radio tower and working on an antenna.

Stambaugh enjoyed working with communications technology experts who walked her through different kinds of radio communications and how civilian agencies can successfully coordinate with military agencies.

“We have so many different systems and tools and options in the state of Minnesota that until you get everybody in the same area together face to face and hands-on, it's hard to picture it all," Stambaugh​ said.

At the end of the training, participants not only took home knowledge of the latest communications technology but also a familiarity with their counterparts across Minnesota.

“Participants take those new skills and connections back to their communities, where they can save lives in an emergency," Dooley said. “Putting that knowledge in the hands of first responders makes all of Minnesota's communities more resilient."

 Learn more about ECN on our website.