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Fort Worth officials hold joint training at Emergency Operations Training Center

2/19/2010 12:00 AM

COLLEGE STATION - The first two emergency management courses held simultaneously for a single jurisdiction - the Enhanced Incident Management/Unified Command and the Enhanced Emergency Operations Center (EOC) courses - were conducted recently for the city of Fort Worth at TEEX's Emergency Operations Training Center (EOTC).

Fort Worth is the first group to take advantage of TEEX's capability of holding joint exercises between the Incident Command Post and the EOC, said Training Director Keith Stephens with TEEX's National Emergency Response & Rescue Training Center. More than 80 participants attended the two courses and joined in the exercise - including emergency personnel from Fort Worth and surrounding communities, the Fort Worth business community, volunteer organizations, public health officials and the military.

"The goal is to get the two groups to learn to work together," Stephens said. "This enhances the training for both groups of participants, making it much more realistic and real-world."

In the scenario, a mock tornado struck a convention center housing evacuees from flooding. Personnel working in the Incident Command Post called the EOC for resources to deal with the mock disaster. Those calls were answered by actual members of the Fort Worth EOC staff attending an Enhanced EOC course in another part of the building, and dealing with the same scenario.

Fort Worth officials and participants applauded the joint exercise. "It's worked really well for us," said J.J. Jones of the Fort Worth Office of Emergency Management (OEM). "The people participating are the ones who would be serving in those posts. TEEX training has helped us get everyone to realize that we need to follow the National Incident Management System guidelines..I think the Number One thing we get from this is the networking, getting to know who your people are and who you can call upon. That's been very beneficial to us." Jones said TEEX training was put to use as the city dealt with a record-breaking snowfall and power outages, after a February storm dumped 12 inches of snow in 24 hours.

"The scenarios are good and very realistic and are incidents that could occur in the city of Fort Worth, so we find it very helpful," said Carl Smart, Acting Assistant City Manager and Executive Assistant. "The advantage of this program is that we have both groups getting different types of training, but getting the chance to do exercises together. so we're getting the chance to see how we coordinate and communicate between the ICP and the EOC...We should be better prepared to deal with a lot of emergencies once we go back home."

John Joyce, with Bass Security, called the training "amazing," "very well-organized and very well thought-out." He added that the instructors conducting the training have a passion for what they do and are extremely well-qualified. "We have obviously some of the best of the best (instructors) that are out there. So if you combine all of those things, I think you have a recipe for an incredibly good program, and that's what I'm experiencing here..."

About the Emergency Operations Training Center
TEEX's Emergency Operations Training Center (EOTC) is a state-of-the-art emergency management and incident command training facility located in College Station, Texas. The EOTC combines emergency management experience, advanced training and adult learning methods, and computer-supported simulation to provide some of the most realistic, large-scale incident management training available.

About the Texas Engineering Extension Service
TEEX, a member of The Texas A&M University System, offers hands-on, customized, first-responder training, homeland security exercises, technical assistance and technology transfer services impacting Texas and beyond. TEEX programs include fire services, homeland security, law enforcement, public works, safety and health, search and rescue, and economic development.

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Kathy Fraser

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