Long known for its unique, hands-on training classes for emergency response personnel, FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP), recently combined three courses and 108 responders into an Integrated Capstone Event (ICE), giving students from multiple disciplines the opportunity to experience the full impact of a mass casualty incident.
Typically, each CDP class culminates with an end-of-course scenario specific to the objectives learned during the training, and many facets are notional. The ICE, however, eliminates much of this artificiality and provides a realistic setting for the students to perform.
“Integrating multiple courses into a combined event is extremely important because it replicates what will happen in an actual community,” says Chuck Medley, CDP training delivery branch chief. “During a mass casualty event, every element of emergency response will engage. Emergency responders need to learn to integrate now, and the CDP is committed to providing the training environment where they can learn to do that.”
The scenario combined students from the Emergency Medical Operations (EMO), Hazardous Materials Technician (HT) and Hospital Emergency Response Training (HERT) courses. They handled field and hospital operations in response to a simulated explosion at a nearby college.
“This training event gives you an idea of what is going to happen and how the different units are going to work together,” says John Combs, a police officer from Fayetteville, NC. “As a first responder, this gives me an idea of how the fire service, hazardous materials, EMS and healthcare work. As a police officer, I normally do not take part in this kind of training—this is a good training day for me.”
“I feel we need to practice like this all across the country to prepare ourselves for any kind of emergency or disaster,” says Trudy Mueller, an emergency room nurse from Conneaut, OH. “This training helps us work together and understand strengths and weaknesses. It is important to train with all the groups together, not just a single group.”
“Combining the EMO class, hazardous materials class, as well as the hospital emergency response course, is amazing,” says Ryan Sell, a firefighter/paramedic from Iolla, Kan. “We had groups involved from the inception of the incident, through each stage.”
Integrated Capstone Events are scheduled each quarter and combine three or more courses in a variety of response operations.
“This was our second ICE and we continue to find things that we can fine tune and improve for future Integrated Capstone Events,” says Medley. “We’ve already identified steps we can take to enhance the scenario, manage our role players and improve logistics.”
To learn more about the Center for Domestic Preparedness, visit http://cdp.dhs.gov or call 866/213-9553.