By 2nd Lt. Sarah Burnett
21st Space Wing Public Affairs Office
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — More than 125 representatives from local agencies here participated in the Federal Emergency Management Agency training through the Emergency Management Institute from March 17-20.
Service members from all local military installations were provided the opportunity to participate in the four-day Integrated Emergency Management Course.
“The (Colorado Springs) community has a vast majority of military members living in the area so it’s key that military members take part and be able to communicate with who their representative would be in Colorado Springs,” said Douglas M. Kahn, training specialist with the integrated management branch at the Emergency Management Institute.
During the four-day course the representatives participated in a set of classroom training and realistic functional exercises, including an airplane crash, an active shooter and a train derailment.
“The exercises presented in the IEMC provided the opportunity to test the capabilities of effective communications, resource management, situational awareness, and interagency cooperation between the agencies at the local, county, state and federal level,” said Tech. Sgt. Rene N. Hernandez, wing inspection team manager for the 302nd Airlift Wing Director of Inspections.
All of the Colorado Springs military installations were present for the EMI training and were able to benefit from the training.
“The biggest takeaway for me was how we all work together, how we build relationships within the community, and the importance of knowing who the agency representatives are in emergency management incidents. Being there with our counterparts at (Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station), (the U.S. Air Force Academy), and Schriever AFB was a valuable learning experience,” Hernandez said.
Building good relationships is vital to emergency management.
“I think it’s important for the civilian community to build relationships with their military counterparts especially when it comes to the resource game, support that you can provide through (memorandums of understanding) and (memorandums of agreement), and especially knowing who the face is to that person or to that agency,” Hernandez said.
All of the FEMA training courses are at no cost to the participant.
“There is no cost to attend any of our training. It is unit funded for military members to attend. Their duty location simply changes for the week of the course and no money exchanges hands,” Kahn said.
FEMA offers generic courses, including hurricane, earthquake, homeland security and hazardous materials preparedness and response.
In addition to generic courses, FEMA offers community-specific courses that are custom designed for a community based on their threats and vulnerabilities or what they consider to be their highest need.
“Being in the role I am in, I can present the information learned to both our 21st and 302nd emergency managers to take a look at the way we operate and build strong relationships with our Colorado Springs community in order to manage incidents affecting our installation, and knowing how to provide support to our community,” Hernandez said.
The City of Colorado Springs applied to the state to have an integrated emergency management course where FEMA representatives sit in with their emergency support functions, including police, fire, EMS and volunteer agencies.
Some variation of FEMA courses, whether that be local or on the Emmitsburg, Md., campus, are offered 45 weeks of the year.
For information about FEMA and EMI training, visit http://training.fema.gov/is/.