At the Resource
This ongoing feature provides information on free resources accessible to first responder departments nationwide. This includes training, equipment, and funding opportunities that focus on rural and small to midsize communities.
Free Disaster Preparedness Training - FEMA National Training and Education Division
The National Training and Education Division (NTED) of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides prevention, preparedness, and management instruction to domestic first responder agencies nationwide. The selection of over 150 courses, developed in collaboration with more than 40 academic and government agencies, provides education in the coordination and handling of large-scale manmade and natural disasters. These services have been developed to meet the needs of healthcare providers, administrative bodies, and the public; however, the focus of the training development and overall program is EMA, EMS, fire, and law enforcement agencies.
As the national response to disaster coordination has evolved, NTED has moved between departments, while continuing to add courses and further responder resources. The Division was first organized in 1998 under the Department of Justice as the Office for Domestic Preparedness, shifting to the Department of Homeland Security’s Preparedness Directorate in 2003. This Directorate was merged with FEMA in 2007 as part of the Post Katrina Emergency Response Act, passed by Congress to facilitate the efficient handling of disasters. Since its creation, NTED has provided training and information to more than 2 million first responders, through both in-person and web-based instruction.
Free Training for First Responders
NTED training is provided at no cost to first responder agencies and individuals at the state, local, and tribal levels, with supplemental resources available to states that have utilized their training budgets. Courses are divided into three broad categories to guide enrollment based on a responder’s role in disaster preparedness:
• Awareness – disaster prevention and situational awareness, especially for responders who may “witness or investigate an event involving the use of hazardous and/or explosive devices.”
• Performance – for agencies responding on the ground to a disaster
• Management and Planning – coordination of resources and response
Training is conducted either in-residence at the first responder agency’s facility, through mobile training near the agency’s location, or through a self-paced online course.
Courses are coordinated through NTEDs extensive and diverse network of training partners, and provide instruction on disaster control ranging from media relations to responding to bioterrorism and radiological/nuclear incidents. The Division includes partners with a distinct specialty in handling large-scale attacks and weapons of mass destruction, including the Center for Domestic Preparedness, which offers the “only training center in the Nation where civilian responders can train in a controlled toxic chemical live agent environment.”
A small sampling of the NTED Course Catalogue includes:
• AWR-209: Dealing with the Media – A Short Course for Rural First Responders - This training, offered in a 6-hour mobile format and an 8-hour web-based format, prepares rural first responders to take on the role of a public information officer in the event of an emergency. The course covers preparatory techniques for on-scene interviews, working with the media in an emergency, and general press relations.
• MGT-415 Disaster Recovery in Rural Communities – This 8-hour mobile training course is offered at a more advanced level to agencies that have completed basic emergency management and coordination training. It provides case studies of recent disasters and discussion of the success or failure achieved by the devastated communities in recovering from the disasters, as well as the factors contributing to recovery. Participants will also work through a scenario to aid in the development of short and long-term recovery plans in their home communities.
• AWR-119 Prevention and Deterrence of Terrorist Acts: an Overview for all Disciplines – Offered to provide insight in the motivation and indicators of terrorism, this course is provided in an 8-hour online format to first responder, public safety, and health organizations. It focuses on the observational cues associated with terrorist activity and the development of WMDs, as well as the association of prevention and detection along jurisdictional boundaries.
In addition to the NTED courses, the Division oversees an extensive catalogue of Federal and State sponsored courses, such as First Responder Terrorism Consequence Management, and Hazmat First Responder Operations Training.
Once a department has selected and approved a course for training, find the local State Administrative Agency Training Point of Contact (TPOC) and provide the following:
• NTED courses – Course ID, Course Title, Training Provider
• State-sponsored courses – Course ID, Course Title, Sponsoring State
• Federal-sponsored courses – Course ID, Course Title, Sponsoring Agency, Point of Contact Information
Depending on the providing agency, the TPOC will approve/deny the request, or contact the appropriate source to request course approval. A full outline of the process for each category of course approval may be accessed here.
Instructors who have developed a state or federally sponsored course relevant to the needs of NTED and its mission may apply to have the course added to the NTED catalogue. Application is made through the Responder Training and Development Center, which provides detailed instructions guiding the applicant through the approval stages. The multi-step process follows the CORE model of implementation – Confirm, Organize, Review, and Enable – and involves analysis and evaluation of the course prior to listing. The Training Center includes templates to facilitate the development process and electronic forms for completing the required content and relevance assessments. A comprehensive overview of the process is found in the CORE checklist.