When TEEX offered the Multi-Agency Coordination System course in 2008, R.J. Thomas, Deputy Chief of Ingleside Fire Department, was anxious to attend. As the manager of the Coastal Bend Multi-Agency Coordination Center, he knew the importance of bringing everyone together to prepare for a potential hurricane or other disaster.
“The scenarios (at the Emergency Operations Training Center) are good and realistic,” he said. “The ability to train away from the office and the phones and the daily distractions is great.” And during 2008, the group put their TEEX training to use when they stood up the MACC for two hurricanes, three wildland fires and one hurricane exercise, he says.
This year, Thomas returned to the EOTC with about 30 others — some new and some who have worked in the MACC together previously — to participate in the two-day Intermediate Multi-Agency Coordination Course. He also invited his neighbors from the Golden Crescent MACC.
“It helps if we work together to prepare for a possible catastrophic disaster,” he said, “and the fact that TDEM (Texas Division of Emergency Management) is funding this helps because of tight budgets this year.”
“MACCs are important for regional coordination, and this intermediate-level course allows them to hone their skills in a team environment and evaluate their plans through computer simulation-based exercises,” said Jory Grassinger, Training Specialist with TEEX’s National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center.
“The course helps them identify pitfalls, and then they can adjust their plans and processes,” he added. “It also provides experience in decision-making, resource coordination and information management.” Participants use a statewide virtual management tool, called Web EOC, during the training.
“The course provides scenarios that are as realistic as possible,” said NERRTC Training Director Keith Stephens. “That means using their maps, their resource list, their plan, and bringing in not just MACC staff, but Emergency Operations Center representatives as well. Six members from the Coastal Bend EOC were role-playing in the “green cell” at the EOTC, including the Regional Liaison Officer, the Sheriff and the Assistant Emergency Manager, he added.
“I would recommend this course for other MACCs across the state,” Thomas said. “One of the advantages of this training is the talent of this group — we learn from them and they learn from us, which enhances the training for other groups.” Stephens agrees: “The course is designed to evolve so it maintains its relevancy.”