Prepping for Disaster Response

The mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Center for Domestic Preparedness is simple: ‘Train the Best for the Worst.’ The Best are the nation’s emergency responders – those willing to put themselves in harm’s way for the safety of their fellow Americans. The Worst are any number of natural and man-made disasters.

By Christopher Chesney, Deputy Superintendent, FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness

From S&B and CST/CBRNE, Winter/Spring 2020

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Center for Domestic Preparedness, or CDP, develops and delivers advanced, all-hazards training to approximately 50,000 emergency responders annually from state, local, tribal, and territorial governments and, on a space available basis, those of the federal government, foreign governments, and private entities. While the CDP trains responders from 17 different disciplines, most are healthcare professionals, law enforcement and fire services personnel, and emergency management specialists and managers.

Training at the Core

CDP training is delivered in-residence on the CDP campus in Anniston, AL; around the nation; and online. Training at the CDP is conducted at three primary sites, in addition to the CDP’s headquarters building.

At the COBRA (Chemical, Ordnance, Biological, and Radiological) Training Facility, the CDP offers the only training program in the nation for civilian responders where toxic chemical agents and biological materials are used. This advanced, confidence-building, hands-on training enables responders to effectively respond to real-world incidents involving chemical, biological, explosive, radiological, and other hazardous materials.

Training at the CDP’s Advanced Responder Training Complex prepares responders to deal with CBRNE and other hazards in settings that are commonplace in communities across the nation. The ARTC has an industrial park, a mock subway station, and a simulated street scene with offices, businesses and warehouses.

The CDP’s Noble Training Facility is the only hospital facility in the nation dedicated solely to training healthcare professionals in disaster preparedness and response, including how to treat victims of a mass casualty incident where chemical, biological or radiological materials are involved. It includes an emergency operations center, an emergency room, and clinical wards, including a new isolation ward for ‘patients’ with highly infectious diseases.

CDP non-resident training is conducted in all 50 states and U.S. territories by a combination of mobile training teams and individual CDP-certified trainers. Individual CDP-certified trainers are graduates of the courses they teach as well as the CDP’s Instructor Training Course.

In addition to its standard non-resident training (more than 50 CDP-developed, instructor-led courses), the CDP has an extensive menu of ‘expeditionary training’ offerings. These offerings allow the center to provide ‘just-in-time,’ tailored training to communities to address immediate or emerging capability gaps.

Continuing to Prepare

Since it opened its doors in 1998, the CDP has trained more than 1,100,000 responders. Regardless of how training is delivered, CDP training is fully funded for state, local tribal and territorial responders by the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency. For those training in Anniston, all travel, lodging and meal costs are included.