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Metro Newsroom

Louisville's Emergency Communications Demonstrated at Thunder

Thursday April 20, 2006

Department of Homeland Security selects Thunder Over Louisville for initial “interoperability” evaluation

MetroSafeSince 9-11, “interoperability” has been the buzzword among cities seeking to establish effective radio communications between multiple emergency agencies. Louisville achieved interoperability with the opening of phase one of MetroSafe last September, and this week, Mayor Jerry Abramson said Louisville will be the nation’s first city to demonstrate its emergency-communications capabilities to federal Homeland Security officials.

All 79 cities that receive federal funding through the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) must complete a demonstration to Homeland Security prior to September 2006.

“We suggested Thunder Over Louisville as the perfect venue to illustrate how we’ve excelled in emergency communications and preparedness,” Abramson said. “Interoperability has been one of our top priorities since merger, and we are excited to demonstrate what we have accomplished.”

Doug Hamilton, director of Louisville’s Emergency Management Agency and MetroSafe, said Homeland Security officials approved Thunder as the first evaluation because of the magnitude of the event and the number of emergency agencies involved, both in Kentucky and Indiana.

“With MetroSafe, we now have new technologies and capabilities in place that will make our Thunder detail the most coordinated and connected emergency-management effort we’ve ever had in this community,” Hamilton said.

In addition to allowing Louisville police, fire, EMS and other emergency responders to communicate, MetroSafe can connect Louisville officials to emergency agencies from 20 different jurisdictions in surrounding cities and counties on both sides of the Ohio River.

Louisville’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will be operational to manage the Thunder detail. The EOC will be fully staffed with representatives from more than a dozen agencies, including Louisville police, fire, EMS and EMA departments, the Health Department, Sheriff’s Office, Kentucky State Police, Indiana State Police, Kentucky Emergency Management, Kentucky Air National Guard, and FBI.

Hamilton said there are more than 1,500 emergency responders, on both sides of the river, assigned to the Thunder detail. Cameras in 83 locations around the event site and interstate highways will provide multiple views of Thunder activities to the EOC’s more than 30 monitors. Officials have been planning the 2006 Thunder emergency-management detail since November 2005.

Following this week’s demonstration to Homeland Security, Louisville emergency-management officials will present information about the Thunder detail and Louisville’s interoperable communications to a national conference of all UASI cities on Monday, May 8 in Washington D.C..

Visit the Louisville MetroSafe website.
Visit the Louisville Metro Emergency Management Agency website.