First Responders Test Plan

On a splendid Spring day, in Whitehall’s Community Park, central Ohio law enforcement, fire, emergency and health officials pondered ways to handle a catastrophe.

Outside the Whitehall Community Center, birds sang loudly, the sun shone brightly. Inside, first responders struggled with various hypothetical disasters that produce multiple casualties and multiple deaths.

At midday, Franklin County Chief Deputy Steve Martin and Columbus Police Deputy Chief John Rockwell emerged from the center to discuss the day’s “tabletop exercise” with WOSU’s Christina Morgan.

The exercise was designed to test what is known as the Tactical Interoperable Communications Plan or, just being able to talk to each other. Agencies that fail to produce and test such plans risk losing federal funding. One encouraging note: if such plans go into effect, Chief Rockwell says, agencies anywhere in the U.S. drop their 10-codes and speak in plain English.