COLLEGE STATION – Forty-seven people were busy running an incident command post following an earthquake — but fortunately, this time, it was only a simulation. The group was participating in a DHS/FEMA-funded course, Enhanced All-Hazards Incident Management/Unified Command, at the Emergency Operations Training Center, which is operated by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service.
Attendees at the April course represented 15 states and the District of Columbia, and included emergency managers, police and fire officials, EMS and public health personnel, public works officials, state and local government and transportation security personnel.
Through unique, scenario-based simulations and computer-aided technologies, the participants learned by managing a realistic, large-scale crises using a unified command approach. They had to respond to a shooting incident, a tornado and an earthquake during the three-and-a-half-day course.
The experiential training is made possible by a DHS/FEMA Homeland Security National Training Program Cooperative Agreement through TEEX’s National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC). The computer-simulated exercise allows responders to learn and perform different roles within the unified command structure, and to work together as a team with people they have just met.
“I’m high on this course. I’ve found it very valuable,” said Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald of Missouri City, TX. “It’s hands-on and helps you understand the responsibilities and functions of different positions (in the incident command structure). The structure of the course not only gives you a working knowledge of incident management with unified command, but how to get things done with people we don’t work with every day.
“The method of instruction is more effective than other ICS classes I have taken,” he added. “The instructors are easy to work with. They don’t give you the answers but help you understand why certain actions might be more effective. This creates a better learning environment.
“You don’t want to practice during a real event,” he emphasized. “As a unified commander, actually going through a tornado drill this week will augment my ability to be effective should we activate our command center. My plan is to have all of our leadership go through this course.”
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.
Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) is an internationally recognized leader in the delivery of emergency response, homeland security and workforce training, exercises, technical assistance, and economic development. The agency operates a comprehensive emergency preparedness and infrastructure training campus, which includes some of the world’s top facilities for hands-on training. Courses are conducted by instructors, many of whom are recognized experts in their respective fields. TEEX offers on-site, customized training and services to businesses and industries, municipalities and public agencies across the globe.
Home to the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center, TEEX also sponsors the elite Texas Task Force 1 urban search and rescue team. A state extension training agency, TEEX is a member of The Texas A&M University System.