Homeland Security and Emergency Services


Training, Exercise, Credentialing And Use Of The Communications Unit

The success for public safety responders to efficiently and effectively respond to and mitigate emergency situations relies heavily on the ability to communicate.

The Communications Unit (COMU), a role within the Logistics Section of the Incident Command System (ICS), is designed to support the operable and interoperable communications needs for exercises, planned events and emergency incidents. Key positions operating in this unit are the Communications Unit Leader (COML) and Communications Technician (COMT). These positions are a valuable resource and should be utilized whenever possible during both the pre-planning and response to planned events and emergency incidents.

The COML serves as the unit manager and is responsible to develop and implement communications plans to support the Incident Action Plan, develop solutions to overcome communications deficiencies and provide overall management of ongoing communications services. The COMT provides hands-on technical services including installation of equipment, radio programming, issuing and maintaining cache communications equipment and establishing and maintaining wireless networks.

For additional information see: Communications Unit Training Resources


To facilitate the implementation and use of the COMU, the Federal Department of Homeland Security-Office of Emergency Communications (DHS-OEC) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) developed the national curriculum for training and performance standards for the All Hazards Type-III COML and COMT positions. OIEC schedules, coordinates and conducts the communications training courses.


OIEC also administers the Communication Unit Leader Exercise (COMLEX) and the Communications Unit Exercise (COMMEX). These exercises provide an opportunity for COML and COMT trainees to perform in a full scale exercise environment, the various tasks required to obtain credentialing for the respective positions.

For information on upcoming COMU training and exercise events, see the DHSES Training calendar: Training Calendar, or contact the Office of Interoperable and Emergency Communications at 518-322-4911 or email dhses.oiec@dhses.ny.gov


NYS All-Hazards Communications Unit, Position-Specific Credentialing Policy

New York State has long recognized the importance of establishing, maintaining and coordinating technical communications and establishing the key positions and roles to ensure that adequate communication plans are developed, implemented and maintained during incidents and events. Unfortunately, the use of the formal Communication Unit (COMU) positions, established in the Incident Command System (ICS), to manage the numerous technologies, networks, and disparate radio systems, has been lacking.

To help close this capability gap, the Federal Department of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Communications (DHS-OEC) in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), developed nationwide performance and training standards and comprehensive training courses for the All Hazards Type III Communications Unit Leader (COML) and Communications Unit Technician (COMT) positions.

Under the direction of the Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), New York State adopted these standards and incorporated them into the Communications Unit, Position-Specific Credentialing Policy. This policy provides the framework to establish formally trained, qualified and recognized individuals that will perform the COML and COMT roles.

This importance of this policy was recognized and approved by the Statewide Interoperable and Emergency Communication Board (SIEC Board) and the establishment and use of the COMU functions has also been identified as a priority objective in the New York-Statewide Communications Interoperability Plan (SCIP).

The policy requires seven (7) essential steps to achieve credentialing. Once credentialing has been issued, the individual will be recognized by NYS in the COMU position for a three (3) year period.

Any questions regarding the policy should be directed to the Office of Interoperable and Emergency Communications, at DHSES.OIEC@DHSES.ny.gov, or 518-322-4911.