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Training for Emergency Responders

The Preparedness Cycle has 6 important components:

· Train

· Exercise

· Evaluate

· Improve

· Plan

· Organize equipment

Each of the 6 components is crucial and there are different levels of training in specialized fields. The goal is to be able to coordinate effectively with first responders and leaders in your community in the event of a disaster.

Exercise the plan. Sometimes plans on paper do not translate to real life incidents. Exercising the plan with other groups through real time or tabletop exercises will help to improve your plan through evaluation.

Tabletop exercises provide an opportunity for communities to test their ability to respond to incidents. The incident is simplified and the time is limited so events unfold faster than they would in real time. A scenario is chosen and played out with the aid of a facilitator that is trained in emergency response.

Simple tabletop exercises are designed to be stress free and open discussion is encouraged. Group participation is important because

“An enhanced tabletop exercise is a simulated interactive exercise that helps to test the capability of an organization to respond to a simulated event. The exercise tests multiple functions of an organization’s operational plan. It is a coordinated response to a situation in a time-pressured, realistic simulation that involves several agencies. An enhanced tabletop exercise focuses on the coordination, integration, and interaction of an organization’s policies, procedures, roles, and responsibilities before, during, or after the simulated event. It places heavy emphasis on communication between all the agencies participating in the exercise.

This type of exercise will require much more planning, preparation, and coordination than a simple tabletop exercise. To a large extent, the value and benefit of an enhanced tabletop exercise comes from bringing representatives from all of the agency roles in the exercise together to participate in the exercise.

It is still possible to run an enhanced tabletop exercise without representatives present from all the agency roles. If possible, you can fill these roles with individuals that are familiar with the mission of the agency that is missing. Note during your after action review that actions taken by the missing agency may have been different than those taken by the "stand-ins" during the course of the exercise.” (Reference: Emergency Response Tabletop Exercises for Drinking Water and Wastewater Systems)

Training organizations include:

Center for Domestic Preparedness

Training and Exercise Integration/Training Operations

· National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC)

· Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium (RDPC)

· Naval Postgraduate School (NPS)

· Competitive Training Grants Program (CTGP)

National Fire Academy

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