Buckle in, this is going to be a long one!
11-22 July 2016 was a great 2-weeks of training at FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute in Emmitsburg, Maryland. 80-hours of instruction for the E0101: Foundations of Emergency Management course. This course is the first half of the EMPP-Basic Academy (Emergency Management Professional Program).
^^ Welcome to DHS/FEMA’s NETC: EMI / NFA (No acronyms while using NIMS though!)
This was a broad overview course designed for new Emergency Managers ~ and I’ll be honest, there was a lot of repeat from other G-series and IS-series courses. If you’ve been through some of the big ones like IS-00001: Emergency Manager: An Orientation to the Position, IS-00230: Principles of EM, L146: HSEEP, G-235: Emergency Planning, L205: Recovery – the Local Government Role, G393: Mitigation, and G775: EOC Operations / Management (etc. ~ you get the idea), you’ll be through a lot of review material.
While the class had potential to be a little rough with there being so much repetition and a large majority of the class being fairly experienced Emergency Managers, the instructors managed to hold the class together by remain engaging, focused on application / experience, and passionate about what they do (as well as having great stories and being a little, well… Off…).
^^ That’s me with my instructors after receiving my certificate for the course. Pete’s the tall guy in the upper left, I’m the one with the grey shirt / glasses, Duane’s photobombing over Katrina in the first one and Katrina’s the young woman in the second one. Yes, they were this entertaining during class…
So, there was a lot of review and TONS of exercises. 22 modules of content and virtually every one had an activity or several. The final day of the second week ended with a TTX (Table Top Exercise) simulating a major flooding event and all of us working roles in the simulated EOC (Emergency Operations Center). In most exercises, I’m a responder or Public Information Officer, so being thrust into the role of the VOAD (Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters) was a little weird ~ but, having the information I needed at hand, and communicating with my teammates made it smooth(ish) sailing!
^^ My Teammates hard at work in the EOC. Clockwise from the bottom woman in red: Annamaria, Jennifer, Don, Denis, Pete (in the white shirt tracking our injects), Bobby, Clark (who’s hiding surprisingly well behind Bobby), Michelle, Mark, my empty seat (someone had to take the photo), and Keith.
This was the second time I’ve been to Camp FEMA and the third class I’ve taken there. As before, there was a great diversity in the class, which made trading experiences a great learning opportunity. Some were retired with 20+yrs in response. Others were brand new to EM: Department of Energy and the Federal Aviation Administration had two representatives in class that were new to starting up EM programs in their respective divisions.
But of course, EMI’s not just classes! That’s only from 0800-1700 M-F. While I spent most of my time on campus, including walking laps around the facility most nights, I was able to slink away a little bit. One evening taking in Ranger programs at Gettysburg National Military Park (NPS), a long morning hiking with a classmate at Catoctin National Park (the classmate is from Texas, so the hills were a new thing for him), a second trip to Gettysburg, and evenings hanging out and bonding with other students / professionals in the Command Post pub on campus.
^^ With Ranger Kostic after her program at Gettysburg.
^^ View from the top of one of the towers at the corner of the Battlefield at Gettysburg
It was a great trip that allowed me to solidify a lot of my knowledge, learn from other experienced practitioners, network and bond with colleagues, and take in some of our National Treasures.
Next up: two weeks at home to catch up and try to get ahead, then two weeks right back at EMI to finish up the final 4 classes (another 2-weeks) and receive my EMPP – Basic Academy Diploma!