Coming to you live from Topeka, Kansas

Welcome back.  I know I kind of left you hanging since I really didn’t write a final blog to close out our trip last week to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Management Institute (FEMA EMI).  I will say that the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program Manager class went very well as did the trip home.

This week I’ve brought you to Topeka, Kansas.  We’re here to teach a CERT Train-the-Trainer class on behalf of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management.  Topeka is about a five-hour drive straight west on I-70 from St. Louis.  The drive over was great.  Weather was clear, sunny, and mild the entire way here.  Along the way, I stopped a notable site along the way that I’d like to share with you now.

Kingdom City and the Missouri Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial

Situated about half way on our trip, I decided to stop off and visit the Missouri Fire Fighter Memorial in Kingdom City.  This fire fighters memorial was dedicated May 18, 2002. On the black granite walls the names of all the Missouri fire fighters who have died in the line of duty since the first Fred Turnbull, St. Louis VFD, 1838 to the present. The Fire Fighter in Prayer statue is actually the second one. The first one was in transit through New York City on September 11, 2001 en route to this memorial. On September 19, 2001, the New York Fire Department accepted the gift of the first Fire Fighter in Prayer statue from Missouri Fire Service. The gift was in honor of the 343 fire fighters who died in fall of the World Trade Center. The original remains in New York City at 8th Avenue and 41st Street and is probably one of the first 9/11 Memorials.

And, as you can see, I found the brick paver at the memorial from my Eureka Fire Protection District.

Welcome to Topeka, Kansas!

As I said earlier, we’re here this week at the request of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management  to conduct a CERT Train-the-Trainer class.  Like many other states across the country, the State of Kansas has had an existing CERT program in place for several years.  Some teams are fairly well established while others are just developing.  With the new CERT Train-the-Trainer curriculum recently released, it was determined now would be an appropriate time to offer training to those interested in teaching CERT across the state. 

One of the most unusual training venues

We are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to conduct training in one of the most unusual venues I’ve been in.  We are conducting training in the Museum of the Kansas National Guard located in Topeka at the entrance to Forbes Field.  As described on the museum’s website, the museum is dedicated to preserving the heritage of the Kansas National Guard and honoring the memories of the soldiers and airmen who, for over 145 years, have served Kansas and the United States whenever the call was made.

The museum is also home to the 35th Division Museum, which includes the 35th Division Hall of Fame. The 35th Infantry Division was formed in 1917 for WWI, and received three battle streamers for battles in France–Ardennes, Alsace, and Meuse-Argonne. It was mobilized in 1940 for WWII and received five additional battle streamers for distinguished service in Europe–Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe. Additional information on the 35th Division may be found at http://www.35thinfdivassoc.com.

The Museum of the Kansas National Guard became a reality on February 1, 1997, when it opened its doors for the first time. It had taken 12 years of work and $700,000 of donated money and time, but today the completed museum sits near the main entrance of Forbes Field, home of several Kansas National Guard units.

In addition to the museum displays, library, and artifact storage, the 11,000 square-foot facility also houses the National Guard Association of Kansas, the Enlisted Association of the Kansas National Guard, and the 102nd Military History Detachment of the Kansas Army National Guard. This combination of occupants makes the museum a true center for the preservation of the militia heritage of the Kansas Army and Air National Guard.

Within the museum walls, the weapons, uniforms and other artifacts carried or worn by Kansas Guardsmen from the Civil War to the Gulf War are proudly displayed. These artifacts paint a picture of the Kansas citizen-soldier from the early and bloody days of the birth of our state, to today’s Guard mission in a highly volatile and dangerous world.  Visitors can see displays of arms and equipment, including a collection of small arms weapons used by Kansas Guardmen and their enemies throughout history. Specific display cases have been set up for the 635th Tank Destroyer Battalion in World War II, the 69th Infantry Brigade in Vietnam, as well as several other Army and Air National Guard units.

A mock Civil War encampment, complete with artillery, provides a view of camp life in the 1860s, giving the visitor a glimpse of the uniforms and equipment used by the thousands of Kansas who volunteered for combat during the Civil War.

Weapons and other artifacts from the Spanish-American War are also presented, including actual items from the famous 20th Kansas Volunteer Infantry Regiment, led by the heroic Medal of Honor recipient, Colonel Frederick Funston of Iola, Kansas.

The displays span the 145-year history of the organization, and includes artifacts from virtually every conflict from the Civil War to the more recent peacekeeping actions in Bosnia.

Outside, and surrounding the museum building, visitors can see static displays of military equipment including an M60 tank (previously used by the Kansas Army National Guard), an 8 inch self-propelled howitzer (capable of firing Nuclear rounds), a variety of helicopters, including an OH-58 Bell Kiowa, an OH-6 Loach from the Silver Eagles (the U.S.Army’s answer to the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds), an AH-1 Cobra, the powerful CH-54 Skycrane, and various other equipment.

Throughout the year, occasional outdoor events are held in the area behind the Museum, including Civil War reenactments, youth events, and Kansas National Guard reunions.

The Museum also houses an extensive military research library, containing hundreds of books, and a small theater with videos featuring Guard and associated military history.

Just outside of the research library is the Kansas National Guard Hall of Fame, honoring individual soldiers and airmen who have led distinguished careers or made significant contributions to the Kansas National Guard. The Hall of Fame contains Medal of Honor recipients; former Guardsmen turned Governors, war heroes, and individuals that have made an indelible mark on the Kansas National Guard.

In addition to all that is contained inside the Museum, an on-line research archives has been established to provide extensive historical information to the general public. This website contains information and photographs on historical Kansas National Guard units and the conflicts they were involved in, past and present weapons and equipment, the Kansas National Guard Hall of Fame, all Kansas Adjutants General and Kansas National Guard Medal of Honor recipients. The web site also contains a virtual tour of the museum facilities as well as information on upcoming museum events and activities for the public, military historians, and Kansas Guardsmen. The on-line research archives
are quickly becoming a favorite stop for history buffs, as well as serious military historical scholars across the country.

In class today

Before I tell you what took place today in our class, I also want to mention that a VERY large CERT Train-the-Trainer class is being conducted in Orlando, Florida.  The Florida Division of Emergency Management ( www.floridadisaster.org/index.asp ) is hosting the class of over 90 students and five of my co-instructors.  Following the class, they will also have a day-long Citizen Corps Instructor Standards workshop.  It all sounds very interesting and I wish them all the best.

In our class, we have over 25 highly motivated individuals who want to teach the CERT curriculum in their communities.  Today, we started out identifying our expectations.  Along with teaching the material, It’s our expectations that we’ll use to aid us in measuring the success of the class.  As I tell students, with the commitment they are making to attend, we should make sure that we are addressing ALL of their expectations in an effort to offer value.  The remainder of the day was spent addressing:

  • The role of an Instructor
  • Maximizing Learning, and
  • Basic CERT units dealing with Disaster Preparedness, Fire Safety, and Emergency Medical Operations.

Come back tomorrow, and I’ll share more pictures and information from our class.

Until then … stay safe!

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