Welcome back to the National Emergency Training Center

This week I’m joining with two other top-notch instructors (John and Harry) who I’ve taught with before and we are on the campus of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Emergency Training Center (NETC).  Specifically, we are teaching at the Emergency Management Institute (EMI).

We are teaching another round of Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Train-the-Trainer and Program Manager classes.  Today, we started the Train-the-Trainer class.  We have over 30 students joining us from various locations around the country, including Salt Lake City Utah, Grand Rapids Michigan, St. Louis Missouri, and Edinburg (Rio Grande Valley) Texas.

Ms. Vilma Schifano Milmoe, Deputy Director – FEMA EMI

As is typical for a class at EMI, we started the first-day with a presentation from Ms. Vilma Schifano Milmoe, Deputy Director – FEMA EMI.  Ms. Schifano Milmoe provided a very nice welcome to the class and shared the story of how FEMA, and specifically the campus came to be.

In 1979, during President Jimmy Carter’s administration, President Carter signed Executive Order 12127 that merged many of the separate disaster-related responsibilities into what we now know as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).   Among other agencies, FEMA absorbed: the Federal Insurance Administration, the National Fire Prevention and Control Administration, the National Weather Service Community Preparedness Program, the Federal Preparedness Agency of the General Services Administration, and the Federal Disaster Assistance Administration activities from HUD.  Civil defense responsibilities were also transferred to the new agency from the Defense Department’s Defense Civil Preparedness Agency.

John Macy was named as FEMA’s first director. Macy emphasized the similarities between natural hazards preparedness and the civil defense activities. FEMA began development of an Integrated Emergency Management System with an all-hazards approach that included “direction, control and warning systems which are common to the full range of emergencies from small isolated events to the ultimate emergency – war.

As it has been for 30 years, FEMA’s mission remains: to lead America to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from disasters with a vision of “A Nation Prepared.”

Also in 1979, then President Jimmy Carter brought together a number of Federal agencies that had involvement in disasters, including DCPA, and created a new, amalgamated organization, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Also in 1979, President Carter dedicated the former St. Joseph’s College, which closed with its merger of participants and faculty with Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland, as the FEMA National Emergency Training Center (NETC).  NETC then became the home for the National Fire Academy (NFA) and the re-named Staff College which become the Emergency Management Institute (EMI), to reflect its now broader training role.  The move from Battle Creek, Michigan, to Emmitsburg was done in the Fall of 1980 and the first EMI class was conducted in January 1981.

EMI and NFA are managed independently with unique participant audiences and curricula for the emergency management and national fire communities. EMI and NFA have collaborated on curricula and programs since their inception, and share in the cost of operation of NETC.

In closing, Ms. Schifano Milmoe mentioned to our class that she felt that the CERT program is the closest thing we (the United States) has to a National Citizen Preparedness program, one with a mission with the interest of our citizens.

Hello Grand Rapids, Michigan!

This week I’m pleased that we have representatives from my home state of Michigan.  Pure Michigan!  These three gentlemen are from the Kent County Volunteer CERT organization (in the Grand Rapids area) which is over on the western side of the state in the Lower Peninsula.  In addition to their website, they also have a page on Facebook  On an interesting note, due to its ties to the lumber industry in past history, Grand Rapids has long been recognized as the furniture center of Michigan, and the region.

OK, back to Kent County CERT … the Kent County Volunteer Cert organization serves all of Kent County.  The organization falls under the Emergency Management organization within the Kent County Sherriff’s Department.   The CERT organization has been in existence for some time, but more recently (about two and a half years ago) a new coordinator was appointed, and since then, the program is trying to grow and improve.  The Kent County Volunteer CERT organization has trained approximately 250 residents trained and of those approximately 40 are considered “active” in the program.

Ken, Chris, and Jim are in class this week to learn more about the CERT program and become better instructors so that they will be able to bringing the training to their community and help grow their program.  The Kent County Volunteer CERT organization offers the community one CERT class per quarter.  In addition, they work closely with their local Boy Scout troops to offer “Teen CERT”.  And to round out their educational classes, the CERT team also offers a basic emergency preparedness workshop for various neighborhood groups.

Recently, the organization finalized their 501c3 filing.  They are now looking at how grant funding and donations might be obtained for future development.  As the Kent County Volunteer CERT organization continues to develop and grow, a main concern they have is program and member sustainment (retention).  I shared with these guys that they should get a lot of good ideas during the upcoming Program Manager course.  In the meantime, the team is trying to figure out how to promote itself and in turn create greater awareness.  One fun way they hope to leverage is the state’s “CERT Games” that will be held in June 2012.  Last year, they took first place in the Western division, and missed first place overall by only a few points.  This year, in 2012, they hope to take first place overall, and if the rest on the team are like these guys, I think they stand a great chance.  Good luck Kent County Volunteer CERT!

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Well, that’s all for today.  Please come back tomorrow and I’ll share more with you including some new friends from South Texas.

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