More than 80 state administrative agents from 35 states are spending the week at the Center for Domestic Preparedness training for various disaster situations. The representatives arrived in Anniston on Monday.
This is the second year the CDP has hosted the National State Administrative Agency Symposium. The symposium consists of seven different members of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium, each bringing its expertise to the training sessions.
For example, a team from Nevada provided training for nuclear attacks, a group from Texas provided information on cyber-security and threat and risk assessment and a team from Hawaii discussed natural disasters. Some of the training scenarios consisted of riot and protest training, emergency health care situations and virtual computer training with 3D imaging.
Since the CDP was created in 1998, approximately 755,000 people have attended training programs. The CDP trains on average 12,000 first-responders each year, according to a CDP spokesman.
Daniel Walsh, chairman of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium, said it’s critical to gather agents in one location and give them the opportunity to discuss issues in their own states.
“First-responders come here for training to learn and teach and go back and take that learning out to their communities when they return home,” Walsh said.
Walsh said the purpose of this conference is for states to send a representative and tell the NDPC what is working and what’s not so it can “re-equip and re-tool” to further train responders to the best of their ability.
Walsh said states have made great improvements in evacuation tactics for natural disasters, especially as they apply to higher population areas. He also said it’s important to have agents come together to share ideas in order to keep making improvements.
“Having that connectivity out across America is very important. Also getting the right people in the room to go through training is critical to us and we work on that every day,” Walsh said.
Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency Director Jonathan Gaddy said the symposium is important to Calhoun County to make sure adequate training is provided for first responders.
“It’s nice to have that here in the backyard, training provided by all those institutions is really invaluable,” Gaddy told The Star.
Gaddy also said it’s important for responders to have a common level of training, whether they live in a rural or metropolitan area; that way, everyone will efficiently respond during disasters.
Corey Gruber, assistant administrator for National Preparedness at FEMA, said there’s “nothing better” than putting trainers and responders in the same room so that states can understand what opportunities are available to them through training providers.
“It’s a great opportunity for dialogue,” Gruber said.
Gruber said it’s imperative for states to capitalize on the training available at the CDP and from the other members of the NDPC because every area of the United States is at risk for potential disasters.
“Tomorrow may be your day to experience that event and it’s important to be prepared,” Gruber said.
Gruber said in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, FEMA is looking at ways to improve every function of emergency management and homeland security. He said officials are reviewing what occurred during the storm and how training programs can we modified.
Gruber said FEMA will discuss how to “share that knowledge with the rest of the nation, so when the next event occurs we will be more prepared.”
Staff Writer Rachael Griffin: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RGriffin_Star.