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Life-saving communications

Iwork in the communications field, so I certainly have an appreciation for how important it is in making society work the way it does in the 21st century.

After moving to the Farmville area, I also have a fresh appreciation for communications equipment that works well amid the challenges imposed by a rural setting.

Clear and effective communication is never more paramount than in emergency situations, which is why I think the Virginia Communications Cache (VCC) is worthy of a special commendation.

I was recently able to learn about the VCC as it was in Farmville doing one of its training sessions to become better prepared for future emergency circumstances in which the cache may be able to lend a hand.

As I reported in my story on the training, Lunenburg County is home to one of the five teams that constitute the VCC, and Lunenburg Program Manager Rodney Newton hosted the organization-wide training for the cache in Farmville.

Newton, who is also chief of Victoria Fire & Rescue in Lunenburg, explained to me that the mission of the VCC is “to provide emergency communication assets to any locality that may need it.”

Each of the cache’s five teams hails from a different locality: Fairfax, Montgomery, Chesapeake/ Hampton, Harrisonburg/ Rockingham and Lunenburg.

“We’re all locally owned,” Newton said. For the Lunenburg VCC team, “every piece of our equipment is owned by Victoria Fire & Rescue through Lunenburg County. It’s all grant funded. Each locality is the same, but we work as an asset of the (Virginia) Department of Emergency Management (VDEM).”

He noted that the cache is not designed to replace a communications system but rather to help in special or emergency situations.

“We’re designed to come in, in support of an event, a natural disaster,” he said. “We were in Appomattox after the tornado hit (in 2016). We provided radio support for them for, well, actually (it) ended up being almost a month. We kept one of our repeaters up there.”

The VCC helped in Farmville during the 2016 Vice Presidential Debate.

“As far as the Lunenburg team, we were (in Prince Edward County on) Mother’s Day for the lady that was missing” this year, Newton said. “We were here helping with that. We’ve been and helped with Longwood graduation. Probably six, seven, maybe even eight years ago, Longwood (Police Department) lost their radio system, so we came in and put up a temporary system until they could get back online.”

Obviously, the cache’s services have become important to localities. Prince Edward Assistant County Administrator Sarah Elam Puckett noted that the county will definitely require VCC’s services again in the future because that is just the nature of life.

I’d like to issue a hearty ‘thank you’ to Newton, the other four program managers and all of the participants in the cache, along with associated personnel in the VDEM, for dedicating their time, energy and expertise to this endeavor that has proven so important to central Virginia and the state as a whole.

TITUS MOHLER is the sports editor for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. His email address is Titus.Mohler@FarmvilleHerald.com.