COLLEGE STATION – More than 1,200 emergency responders and officials in the Atlanta metropolitan area are better prepared to keep people safe during the upcoming Super Bowl LIII thanks, in part, to training they received from the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX).
On Feb. 3, more than 71,000 fans will descend on the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA, for the NFL’s pinnacle event, where the New England Patriots will face the Los Angeles Rams. Up to 1 million people are expected to visit the fan festival, Super Bowl Live, and the NFL Experience and other events surrounding the Super Bowl. The event is categorized by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as a Level One Special Event Assessment Rating (SEAR 1), meaning it has the highest threat level to public safety. This rating qualifies the city for federal resources, including the DHS/FEMA-funded training conducted by TEEX.
Following a meeting with Georgia Department of Emergency Management officials in 2017, TEEX has conducted 47 classes for Atlanta-area personnel involved in security or emergency response for the Super Bowl. Training has focused on critical infrastructure protection, threat and risk assessment, sports and special events risk management, incident management, disaster response, active shooter incident management, cyber incident preparedness, response to hazmat/WMD incidents, and protective measures for biological incidents, and medical preparedness for bombing incidents.
The specialized courses were delivered by TEEX’s National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center (NERRTC) as part of the Homeland Security National Training Program. The training was conducted in cooperation with other members of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC) and with partners at the University of Southern Mississippi’s National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security.
“We have been preparing for this a solid two years,” Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields said at a Jan. 15 press conference. “I think that with anything, you can go in with a spirit of confidence if you have prepared, and we have prepared well.” She said the department has worked collaboratively with over 40 state, local and federal law enforcement agencies in planning for the event.
“Working with Atlanta and surrounding jurisdictions well in advance of the Super Bowl has given TEEX’s National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center and the NDPC the unique opportunity to focus training in those areas that addressed specific needs associated with the event,” said Jesse Watkins, Director of Operations for TEEX’s National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center. “We worked with them to identify training needs and prioritize the training dates within the timeframes requested by the host agencies. Atlanta has been especially successful in that we had great multi-disciplinary representation from the area, both at the initial meeting as well as participants from our federal partners from within FEMA Region 4.”
TEEX leadership met with Miami officials in 2018, and has begun offering training to Miami emergency response personnel in preparation for the Feb. 2, 2020, Super Bowl. Meetings with officials in Tampa Bay were held last week to begin discussions about providing training in preparation for the 2021 NFL event.