Emergency management teams with T-Mobile performed an exercise Wednesday at noon in Maysville to train for potential disasters that crews may have to deal with and how to respond in such an event to ensure their wireless service is operational.
Tony Grat, senior manager of Emergency Management for T-Mobile said he and the rest of the crew are conducting this training in downtown Maysville near the Limestone Center as part of a partnership with Emergency Disaster Services, which is providing the workers with much of the lodging and other facilities used during the training.
“Basically we’re training a group of subject matter experts for disaster recovery,” he said. “So what we’re going to do is teach them on all of the tools we have for T-Mobile, and then we’re going to start deploying our equipment for disaster recovery.”
The trainees are separated into groups, with each group given a mock scenario to which they have to respond to. Once the exercise began, the groups travelled to various areas around Mason County where they set up various equipment such as generators or temporary cell towers to re-establish a network for emergency services and the public to use.
“Once that’s done, they’ve got to do recons — making sure they fill out the spreadsheets that come back to us, with pictures, and then we’ll say it’s all clear to bring the equipment down and they come back here,” Grat said.
To Grat, working with EDS and being able to set up a sort of base camp in disaster areas is the next step in evolution to responding to these scenarios, especially when places like hotels may not be available for workers. This training is the first of its kind in the wireless industry, he added, where the training involves live drills and sleeping in the camps and the deploying of trailers.
n responding to an area struck by disaster, emergency management crews focus on re-establishing the wireless communication network for its customers and first responders that are in the area, the end goal for the crew is not a commercial one.
“We don’t look at this as an opportunity to sell phones,” he said, “and I want to make sure that’s really clear, because this is more of a training and making sure our processes work. We’re not out here, we don’t have a booth out here with hand sets trying to sell them to people driving by and things like that.”
C.J. Johnson, senior operations manager for the Central Florida market for T-Mobile was one of the trainers who worked with the subject matter experts. Once the exercise began he, along with the other trainers observed the performance of the workers.
“We’re going to ride along with them and see how well we did as far as training them,” he said
Training in disaster recovery on a yearly basis, Johnson said, goes a long way to sharpen the skills of each worker and helps to familiarize them with the equipment they will be using. With it being the first time that workers from several regions have come together for such training, he foresees this being a yearly occurrence.
“It’s just trying to get communications into the communities as fast as we can get it,” Grat said, “and by doing these drills and testing out procedures, that’s how we’re going to get faster and faster at it and better qualified to do this.’