A New Class … and My Friend Scott

Let me start out today’s blog by mentioning that this week I was happily joined on this trip with a great friend of mine from St. Louis.  “Scott” traveled with me from St. Louis and was enrolled in a class called “Discussion-based Exercise Design and Evaluation” that’s part of FEMA’s Master Exercise Practitioner (MEP) program.  To say Scott is unique is an understatement.  Scott’s very family oriented, which I admire in him.  Work related, he’s a full-time police officer.  His department recently recognized his commitment and leadership by promoting him to the rank of Sergent.  When he’s not ‘busting perps” he also works as a paramedic on the “kid copter” which is a medical helicopter based out of a local children’s hospital in St. Louis.  Add to this, he volunteers as a firefighter at one of our local fire protection districts.  In order to stay sharp in his knowledge and skills, Scott regularly takes continuing education classes like the one this week.  He’s really a first-responder professional.

There are many things I’m thankful for in life, and one of them is having great friends like Scott.  His class ended today and so he left early this morning.  By the time this gets posted, he’ll be back home.  So Scott, it was a pleasure.

That's Scott in the shorts

CERT Program Manager

Today, we started our second class … “CERT Program Manager”.    Whereas the last three days were spent developing instructor skills and more specifically how to teach CERT, this class addresses how to develop and manage the entire CERT program, going beyond the instructional aspect to include:

  • Program administration including establishing the program vision, policies and procedures
  • Marketing and promoting the program
  • Working with volunteers and trainers
  • Resource management
  • Training and exercises
  • Program evaluation and sustainment

My fellow instructors again set the bar very high in the delivery of their material.  Of course they’ve been doing that all week.  All three are terrific instructors that have consistently demonstrated their ability to deliver information very effectively.  Even as an instructor, I’ve learned from them this week.

Working With Trainers

The unit that I was responsible for today was “Working With Trainers”.

The importance of this unit stems from the fact that the quality of the trainers selected has more to do with the initial success or failure of a CERT program than anything else.  Students in training (not just CERT training) regularly rate the quality of instruction as more important to meeting their overall learning goals than any other factor.  Additionally, students pay attention to the trainers more than to print materials or media.  Think about training you’ve attended.  Wasn’t it the Instructor that made the difference – good or bad?

Unit Highlights

To start the unit presentation I provided an overview of the CERT Program Manager’s role with trainers including:

  • the types of personnel needed to instruct the class
  • the importance of trainers to the program’s success
  • what constitutes a competent trainer, and
  • the creation of a “Trainer Development Plan”

Throughout the remainder of the unit, I “imparted wisdom” about:

  • Recruiting trainers – students had to record recruitment ideas they came up with in their draft Program Plan
  • Orienting trainers – which includes learning about the trainer and providing information to the trainer. As part of the course material, the students received a list of the information to include in orientation to reduce liability and to ensure that the trainer represents the program competently.
  • Tracking trainers (i.e. what needs to be tracked and why tracking is important) – which is important in order to know who is available to schedule for training courses, especially if an emergency fill-in is needed, to justify the program to funders, and to show what service the program is providing.
  • Managing trainers – including the tasks in managing trainers, training them, monitoring their work, and finally evaluating them and providing feedback.
  • Retaining trainers – through trainer recognition, particularly to volunteer trainers vs those that are paid.
  • Termination of a trainer – not everyone is meant to be an instructor.  There is a correct way to terminate someone.

So, that was it for today.  Tomorrow is our last day of class and I’m on deck to instruct the unit on “Program Evaluation”.  Sounds exciting, huh?

Until then, be safe.

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