Disaster Emergency Communications | FEMA.gov

It is important for public safety agencies (such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, and fire services) to be able to provide and maintain communications before, during, and after a disaster or emergency.

Disasters may require resources beyond what local and state authorities can manage. We provide disaster emergency communications through six geographically dispersed Mobile Emergency Response Support detachments and a pre-positioned fleet of Mobile Communications Office Vehicles.

All personnel, systems, and equipment can be driven or airlifted by a military cargo aircraft. The amount of time it takes for an asset to arrive on site depends on the distance to the disaster location and the availability of the airlift.

Mobile Emergency Response Support

Mobile Emergency Response Support provides self-sustaining telecommunications, logistics, and operations support through detachments (staff, equipment, and equipment assets) that are immediately deployable. These detachments can be transported nationally and are able to work together to support a large disaster field office and multiple field operating sites within the disaster area. They are activated at the request of state or tribal emergency management officials.

Each detachment has the following capabilities:


  • Provides an office and communications platform capable of moving into a disaster on short notice and can be staffed to meet situational needs.
  • Ensures systems interoperability through deployment of:
    • Radio equipment (such as Ultra High Frequency, Very High Frequency, and 700 MHz tactical radios)
    • Satellite backhaul (to provide voice, data, and video support via satellite)
    • Line of Sight / Near Line of Sight microwave systems (for moving data in and out of a disaster area)
    • Cross-banding

The front angled view of a large white semi truck and trailer.

The Green Hornet: Large-scale emergency operations vehicle Download Original


  • Has generators to supply the power generation requirements of one or more facilities or locations within the disaster area.
  • Can provide the heating, ventilation, and cooling requirements for a large office building.
  • Can provide diesel fuel.
  • Can provide potable water.

The side view of a large white fuel tanker.

Fuel tanker


  • Support personnel with planning; alert, notification, and deployment monitoring; situational awareness; and reporting.

Lafayette, Tenn., February 8, 2008 -- This FEMA Mobile Emergency Response Support(MERS) Initial Response Vehicle(IRV) is providing support to the FEMA FIRSTeam in uploading live video feed to FEMA headquarters for critical planning and preparation. This one is from MERS-Thomasville, GA team was sent immediately after the severe storm and tornado which impacted this community. George Armstrong/FEMA

Incident Response Vehicle

Mobile Communications Office Vehicles

Mobile Communications Office Vehicles are multi-purpose central office facilities that are activated to support FEMA’s response and recovery to/from a disaster. These vehicles are fitted with work stations and satellite communications to provide voice and data connectivity to the FEMA network to support survivors.

Lake City, Fla., July 9, 2012 -- FEMA Mobile Communications Operations Vehicle (MCOV) Operator Theresa Engel is at the Columbia County Disaster Recovery Center (DRC)where this vehicle is providing tele-communication services to assist Tropical Storm Debby survivors. George Armstrong/FEMA

Mobile Communications Office Vehicle

During initial deployment, Mobile Communications Office Vehicles are guided by operational coordination, control, and communications requirements received from on-scene emergency management personnel. They’re able to quickly establish a center for survivors to apply for assistance, which is known as a mobile disaster recovery center.