Under this program, State and local public officials, private firms and volunteers are provided training and assistance in designing exercises to test their emergency plans. Cities and counties throughout Washington prepare for large and small-scale emergencies through their mandated comprehensive disaster exercise programs. Those local jurisdictions that accept Emergency Management Performance Grant (EMPG) funding (through the EMD) are required by contract to design, conduct, evaluate, and report at least one functional or full-scale exercise during the each Federal fiscal year (unless the jurisdiction experiences an actual disaster, which may be used towards ‘program credit’ in lieu of conducting an actual scheduled exercise.)
To help these jurisdictions in their exercise planning endeavors, the EMD offers a three-day Exercise Design and Evaluation course at least twice each year. In this course, students are able to study and learn a proven, eight-step process by which they can design effective disaster simulations and an evaluation methodology to capture the lessons learned during the exercise. Additionally, EMD staff provides assistance to the state’s cities, counties, and State agencies in the design, conduct, and evaluation of their emergency management all-hazards exercises. In general, this assistance comes in the form of pre-exercise advisement, site visits, and may involve technical review of written exercise design products. (WMDEMD3, 2002)
State Emergency Management Training
The Training Section develops and conducts emergency management training designed to improve the skills and understanding of the roles and responsibilities of emergency management personnel. Section staff develops, conducts, and evaluates emergency management training and exercises to test the capabilities of contingency plans and the abilities of emergency personnel.
The Training Section coordinates a wide range of training both within and outside the state. Training offered within the state includes:
- Professional Development Series courses;
- Applied Practices Series courses; and
- Courses that prepare individuals for disasters ranging from floods, fires, weather storms, earthquakes, and other natural or technological hazards.
Courses and workshops generally run from one day to one week, and are conducted throughout the state to offer the greatest access to all local agencies and individuals. Many courses are offered without charge or for a nominal fee. Each year in the fall, a training calendar with course descriptions and schedule is published. Washington EMD Training information can be viewed through the Internet at www.wa.gov/wsem/.
EMD’s training program also facilitates enrollment in courses offered by the FEMA Emergency Management Institute (EMI), located in Emmetsburg, MD. EMI courses are designed to assist federal, state, and local government officials; volunteer organizations; and the private sector to enhance their capabilities to mitigate, prepare, respond, and recover from natural and technological disasters. Many of these courses are designed as Train-the-Trainer to enable participants to share their expertise upon return. A broad program of courses and information offered each year through FEMA’s Emergency Education Network (EENET), and viewing sites for this program are offered throughout the state.
The FEMA EMI program is the subject of another case study in this section, Preparedness. However, information on the program can be found at http://training.fema.gov/emiweb/. (WMDEMD4, 2002)
Disaster Preparedness Public Education
The Policy, Programs & Training Section also develops public education materials to motivate individuals, families, neighborhoods, schools and businesses to prepare for emergencies and disasters. This last task is the primary focus of the case study. (WMDEMD2, 2002)