Free Online Training about Railroad Safety for Emergency Responders

26 05 2012

CSX recently launched a free, online training program to educate emergency personnel on how to safely respond to incidents on and around railroad property and equipment. The site at www.csxsafe.com, is the first of its kind launched by a U.S. railroad for this audience.

CSXSAFE offers participants the opportunity to gain an understanding of how railroads operate, including some of the hazards of working around the rails and necessary protocols to keep responders safe. This web-based program takes
less than an hour to complete, and is intended to provide important information to public agency personnel in fire and police departments, rescue and emergency medical organizations.

“Every day, emergency workers put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public in homes, office buildings, factories, agricultural facilities and other locations, each with distinct hazards,” said Mike Lunsford, CSX director-chemical safety. “CSXSAFE is one of the ways we help these brave men and women by educating them on the unique challenges posed by railroad operations. Emergency personnel have to know a great deal about a variety of different industries and settings, and we want to make it as easy as possible for them to learn about ours.”

The educational section of the site is organized into four parts, providing basics on Safety, CSX Operations, Initial Response and Railroad Equipment. Upon completion of the training modules, participants take a quiz, print a certificate of completion and are able to browse through upcoming in-person training opportunities being offered across the CSX network.

“For those who don’t work for the railroad, our equipment can be intimidating and some safety risks may not be apparent,” said Cliff Stayton, director of Community Affairs & Safety. “This training is designed to help emergency workers make good decisions quickly and know who to call to get help.”





Fort Bend County Technical Rescue Team practices trench rescue techniques in City of Richmond

11 08 2011

As reported by Don Munsch and reported in the Fort Bend Herald on Wednesday, August 10, 2011, area firefighters who make up a County-wide Technical Rescue Team have been in training this week.  Top-notch instructors from Texas A&M have been leading the students with instruction on trench rescues.  Other training sessions will be taking place throughout 2011. 

The Fort Bend County Technical Rescue Team is a multi-jurisdictional effort to build an urban search and rescue capability that can be deployed in the Houston region if the need should arise.  The cost of the needed equipment and training is being paid for by federal homeland security funds which have been allocated to Fort Bend County. 

In addition to the Technical Rescue Team, homeland security funds have also funded the formation of two regional hazardous materials response teams and a regional mass casualty response team.  All these teams are based here in Fort Bend County providing excellent service the citizens of Fort Bend County and support assistance to the entire region.  Without the formation of all of these teams, response to certain types of disasters would not be as effective or as efficient. 

Related to the training being held this week, as reported by Munsch:

The victim was under some dirt at the bottom of the 8 1/2-foot trench at George Park in Richmond. Upon closer examination, the victim was missing part of his arm.

Emergency responders said the victim was breathing but not conscious. He was a worker tending to duties inside a trench, according to the public information officer at the scene.

Using various equipment, firefighters from Richmond and Rosenberg, Missouri City and Stafford rescued the victim Monday afternoon in about an hour and 20 minutes. Fire department training teams rescued the victim, a mannequin, in 100-degree temperatures.

“It’s a multi-agency task force that we have with the county and it’s part of the technical rescue training we have,” said Richmond Fire Department Lt. Chris McAnally, explaining the trench rescue training.

Firefighters train together about twice a year, he said.  Trainings sessions include structural collapse, trench rescue, confined space and rope rescue.

“We’ve got a simulated trench collapse here with a mannequin on the bottom simulating a victim,” he said.  McAnally said trench hole collapses are common with utility, electrical, underground and pipeline work.

“We had a trench collapse in Richmond in 2000 in the Office Depot parking lot,” he said. “There have been a few other ones since then, but that was a major one. It was an underground utility trench they were digging.”  Rescuers must simultaneously perform safety measures while maintaining their own safety.

“It’s a methodical process of shoring up to maintain safety to prevent further collapses,” McAnally said.





City of Simonton Holds Emergency Operations Exercise

11 05 2011

 Emergency preparedness is not simply a responsibility for large cities or Texas counties.  All jurisdictions, not matter what the size need to prepare for emergencies that happen locally.  In Fort Bend County, one only needs to look at the efforts of the City of Simonton’s Emergency Management Coordinator over the last seven years. Under the leadership of Lou Boudreaux, Simonton, a community of only 814, has undertaken preparedness activities which many larger communities have not completed.

Simonton understands the threats to the community, primarily flooding issues given its proximity to the Brazos River.  As the article notes, many of its elected officials and its citizens have completed various training designed to make the community safer in times of disaster.  Working in collaboration with Miles Tollison, Senior Planning Coordinator from the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management (FBC OEM), the City is developing Emergency Management Guidelines describing how the jurisdiction wants to meet its emergency management responsibilities.  

Doug Barnes, FBC OEM’s GIS Planning Coordinator, has worked with the Boudreaux to develop a set of maps which can be used by local officials and trained citizens to map damage that may occur following a disaster, like a hurricane.  Other preparedness efforts that the City has completed include developing memorandums of understanding with the neighboring City of Weston Lakes and Fort Bend County; procuring equipment to outfit a small Emergency Operations Center; working to identify necessary hazard mitigation efforts designed to prevent future damage; and, as noted below, procuring the necessary equipment to pump water from areas that might flood during an emergency.

As reported by FortBendNow staff on Monday, May 9, 2011, please read the article below which will tell you more about the substantial preparedness efforts being made by this small community located in Fort Bend County.

With hurricane season looming and bad weather always a threat, the City of Simonton recently held a preparedness exercise to ensure the community was prepared to handle a flood event.

The exercise, which lasted several hours, involved training 15 community volunteers to effectively and efficiently pick up, deliver, deploy, operate, take down and return the city’s trailer-mounted flood pumps.

The city recently agreed to coordinate flood pump operations with the Valley Lodge Property Owners Association, which is located wholly within the city limits. The agreement gave the association the responsibility for maintaining, staffing and operating the pumps. The effort will be led by board member Stephan Sear.

According to Simonton Emergency Management Coordinator Louis Boudreaux, the exercise showed the pumps could be removed from storage, set up on-site and operational in less than 50 minutes.

“A quick response is very important when it comes to dealing with an emergency,” said Boudreaux. “The volunteers did an excellent job in this exercise and showed a significant commitment to protect their community.”

Simonton Mayor Daniel McJunkin said the city was working with local organizations such as VLPOA to help protect the community.

“It’s not easy being a small city in Texas because the public’s expectation for emergency preparedness is high,” McJunkin said. “We have limited financial resources and no paid city staff to set up and run emergency equipment, but, what we lack in resources, we make up for with community spirit and preparedness.”

The mayor added the city had achieved an important preparedness milestone by partnering with community groups to take on important tasks.

“I am pleased with the turnout and with the outcome of the exercise. The volunteers learned about pump operations and the city has learned from the exercise as well,” he said.

Boudreaux said in addition to this exercise, the city intends to hold regular training events to prepare for other types of emergencies.

“Our primary concerns are the potential for hurricanes and river flooding. We are also preparing for how to deal with tornados, wild fires, chemical spills and other general emergencies,” Boudreaux said.

Boudreaux also praised the leadership Fort Bend County Emergency Management Coordinator Jeff Braun in helping the city partner with the other communities in the area to achieve better emergency preparedness. Simonton has also developed its own emergency action plan, which was created with the help of Alderwoman Sandy Bohannon. 

Simonton City Council Members, as well as a number of local volunteers, have also completed numerous online training courses provided by FEMA covering the “National Incident Management System,” which is a standardized nationwide approach to manage emergency events. The city has also become active in Citizen’s Emergency Response Teams and the Medical Reserve Corps program.  Simonton residents interested in volunteering can contact city hall at 281-533-9809.





TEEX’s Emergency Operations Training Center Trains First Responders from New York and New Jersey

4 04 2011

Many Emergency Managers in Texas have been fortunate enough to complete training at the Emergency Operations Training Center (EOTC) in College Station.  The EOTC, a Texas Engineering Extension Service facility in College Station, is a 32,000 square foot facility which uses state-of-the-art simulation and computer-based technologies to train incident managers and supervisors in the management of a large-scale crisis using a unified command approach, which can be tailored to any group.

However, many in the State of Texas take this training asset for granted.  I do not think many realize the national scope of the offerings at TEEX.  Training courses offered by TEEX have delivered homeland security type training for more than 200,000 responders in nearly 7,500 jurisdictions in all 50 states.    Responders from major urban areas in the United States, such as Los Angeles and New York, have traveled to College Station for incident management training.  For information about one recent training exercise, please read from TEEX news release (April 1, 2001) below:

The PATH train station located below One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial were the focus of a simulated crisis last week at TEEX’s Emergency Operations Training Center (EOTC). The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey brought 47 first responders and emergency management officials to College Station, Texas, to participate in an incident management exercise as part of its preparation for the 10th anniversary and opening of the 9/11 Memorial at the site of the World Trade Center.

The Memorial will be dedicated and opened to the public on Sept. 11, 2011, the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. On Sept. 12, the public may visit the Memorial with a reserved visitor pass. Millions of visitors are expected the first year.

“The people here (at the EOTC) this week are the leaders who would be working with the Port Authority during an incident,” said Brian Lacey, Director of the Port Authority’s Office of Emergency Management. “This exercise brings together 16 agencies, working together as a team in preparation of a major incident, and allows them to get rid of any prejudices and any mistakes they might make.”

Besides visitors to the 9/11 Memorial each day, One World Trade Center, and other buildings in the area are under construction with 3,000 to 5,000 workers onsite 24/7, he said. “That’s a lot of people to protect, plus about 50,000 riders each day on the PATH station underground. And adjacent to the Memorial is the busiest intersection in New York City, at Church Street and Vessey,” he added.

The Port Authority of NY & NJ is responsible for safety and security at the World Trade Center property, but in case of a large incident, would rely on mutual aid from a wide variety of organizations, many of which were represented at the EOTC exercise. “These groups have gone back and spread the word about our training and exercise model,” Lacey said. “New Jersey Transit and Metropolitan Transportation Authority have adopted this model.”

Representing one of the partnering agencies at the Incident Command System (ICS) training exercise was Daniel Donoghue, Deputy Chief of the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), 3rd Division, Midtown Manhattan. “I wasn’t sure what to expect this week. I’m comfortable in a command role, but then I worked in planning and logistics,” he said. “It has taken me out of my comfort zone, but it has been interesting and useful. We’re learning the process.”

“This training is about how to operate in a high-profile, large incident. This training is extremely valuable because it allows us to work with numerous city agencies, something we do not often get the chance to do. For example, we’ve been able to discuss real-life questions relating to a mass-casualty incident with the Medical Examiner’s Office and the Department of Health, as well as talking to the Port Authority. The networking is great; we’re making contacts and learning what other agencies can contribute.”

“For these jurisdiction rotations, we respond to an “incident” on our own terrain, and we create an event that could really happen,” said Jim Munday, Senior Manager of Emergency Readiness for the Port Authority. “Last year, a short time after we completed the full-scale exercise at the Newark Liberty International Airport, we had the scare of a bomb in a FedEx package. Because of our training, our response at the Newark Airport went extremely well.”

“So far, we’ve had seven rotations with TEEX, and it’s been a tremendous experience,” Munday added. “We bring a cohort group of people from our region. They are working together as a team, and they will go back and continue this with some drills and orientations and a full-scale exercise, following the HSEEP (Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program) model. It’s really beneficial because it’s better to meet people in a learning environment than it is to meet for the first time onsite at a major incident. This is the model for the United States. It is the model we’re using and now other agencies have been copying. We’re taking a methodical approach, and we’ve had tremendous success.”

Lacey agreed: “My office has partnered with TEEX for several years doing these jurisdictional rotations. I’ve been very impressed. I think it’s a great program. It’s tough economic times, but my chain of command couldn’t be more supportive of what we’re doing. We’re able to use federal grant funding and leverage it for our mutual aid partners as well.”

The Port Authority also plans to hold an exercise involving JFK Airport at the EOTC in May, Munday said, adding that future exercises will likely involve the George Washington Bridge, the Jersey City Transportation Center, and LaGuardia Airport.

The Port Authority has 7,000 employees and operates five airports, two tunnels, four bridges, the Ports of New Jersey and New York and 13 stations on the PATH lines, as well as property at the World Trade Center.





5th Annual Transborder International Police Training Conference

4 03 2011

In November 2007, a group of 37 officials from Texas and Mexico met at Rancho Río Grande in Coahuila and founded Policía Internacional Transfronteriza / Transborder International Police (PIT/TIP).  In attendance were members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Houston Police Department, United States Marshal Service, Texas Attorney General’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety, Brownsville Police Department, Arizona Highway Patrol and the National Insurance Crime Bureau.  Representing Mexico were officials from the Coahuila State Police, Tamaulipas State Police, Agencia Federal de Investigaciones, Policía Federal Preventiva, and various other state and local law enforcement agencies. 

For the last five years these law enforcement officers have been working cooperatively to expedite the investigation of hundreds of trans-border crimes.   Just recently, a joint operation that began as an auto theft investigation in Houston, Texas resulted in the arrest of 11 suspects in Mexico City and the confiscation of weapons, 499 rounds of ammunition and 16 stolen vehicles.

The Policía Internacional Transfronteriza / Transborder International Police (PIT/TIP) is proud to invite you to the 5th Annual Training Conference. All eligible attendees will be entitled to receive 40 TCLEOSE credit hours and the opportunity to network with Federal, State and Local Law Enforcement Officers from North and Central America.

Theme: Influencing Policy From The Ground Up

Each investigative agency has its unique transborder challenges. As investigators or prosecutors, we find ourselves thinking “my unit could do a more effective job if only ____________.” This conference will serve as as a platform to fill in that blank and to have those wishes be heard by those who actually formulate policies.

Additionally, thanks to the feedback we received in our previous conference, organizers are scheduling more workshops into this year’s agenda. Topics will include:

human trafficking,

money laundering,

homicide,

fugitives,

car bombs,

auto theft, and much more.

The full agenda will be available online as soon as all presenters are confirmed.

Eligibility:

Attendees must be law enforcement officers and security personnel.

Registration Fee:

Registration fee is $200 per participant and it includes three luncheons. Those who register before March 28, 2011 will receive a $25 discount. Register now!

When:

April 4th – 8th, 2011

Venue:

Houston Marriott North Hotel

225 N. Sam Houston Pkwy. East
Houston, Texas 77060

Hotel Accommodations:

Conference participants who stay at Houston Marriott North Hotel will have a special rate of $89 per night/room. This rate includes breakfast, Internet (WiFi), and parking.

Reserve online

• Call 1.800.228.9290





More About Personnel Cuts at Training Center

22 01 2011

From the San Angelo Standard-Times (January 21, 2011), written by Matthew Waller: 

 The state’s budget emergencies may affect its ability to handle other emergencies. Texas has opted to discontinue contract funding for an emergency management division’s services, and San Angelo may be feeling its effects, the city’s emergency management coordinator has said.

The National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center got rid of 42 employees after its contract with the state ended, the Texas Engineering Extension Service announced.  “It has been a great asset to the first responders in Texas,” Tom Green County and city of San Angelo, Emergency Management Coordinator Ron Perry said.

TEEX spokesman Brian Blake said that the NERRTC division isn’t closing but that training would become less frequent and limited to bodies with their own funding.  He said groups from New York, New Jersey and California would be seeking training, for example.  “A lot of it was exercise training where they do simulations of disaster scenarios for officials,” Blake said. “None of those programs are ending. They’re just being scaled back.”

Blake said he did not know why the state decided not to renew its contract or what state entity was in charge of the decision, but state lawmakers in the 82nd Legislature have been finding ways to reduce their budget by billions of dollars.  Perry said he had no opinion on the budgeting decision.  “We’ll have to pick up that training on our own,” Perry said.

Perry said he remembered taking a group of Concho Valley Council of Government judges and volunteer fire department workers to a training session.  After the session they learned that near College Station, where they had the training, a plant suffered an explosion, and harmful chemicals were released into the air in Bryan.  “Everybody said, ‘This was a good, useful training,'” Perry said.

Perry said people from the emergency training division came to Tom Green County and gave lessons.  He said their assistance, free of charge, would be missed.  “They are the expert experts in their fields,” Perry said.

“They came several times a year.”

Blake said the group included everyone from business managers to former military personnel.  He said the division still has 25 people.  Blake said the division began in 2003, not to be confused with a federally funded center with the identically titled National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center, which gives out training with grants through the Department of Homeland Security for different programs.

Police spokesman Lt. David Howard said he was unaware of the police receiving any training through NERRTC, and Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Lassiter said the San Angelo Fire Department may be affected indirectly.  “Since 9/11 there are so many different programs we have trouble arranging travel to take advantage of all the trainings,” Lassiter said.

Blake said the cut in the NERRTC division affected salary and hourly employees.  He said the division budgeted about $13 million, and half of that came from the state.  He said 10,069 people received training through the division.

He said TEEX has known about the discontinued contract since Dec. 31.  Tom Green County Judge Mike Brown said he has gone through NERRTC training multiple times.  “They come here more than we go there,” Brown said. “We train continuously. It’s an ongoing process through our appointed emergency management coordinator with the assistance of the Council of Governments.”

Brown said that the last time he went, he and others were reviewing a training process that was in development for other elected officials.  He said that in the past the county has gone to multiple trainings each year, although now they may have fewer training sessions as the budget falls.  “We’re going to do the best we can with what we have,” Brown said.





NERRTC Staffing Cut from 57 to 15 Employees

21 01 2011

Dozens of state employees who prepare emergency responders for catastrophic events were recently laid off due to the state’s budget shortfall.   The Texas Engineering Extension Service’s National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC), located in College Station on the campus of Texas A & M University, dropped from a staff of 57 to just 15.

The 42 people who lost their jobs, which represent administrative, support and management staff, will receive 60 days of severance pay.  Notice of the reduction in force was given earlier this week.  Since its inception in 1998, the center has trained more than 278,000 emergency responders and community officials for natural disasters, man-made accidents and terrorist attacks.

The Training Center was established to enhance the capabilities of emergency responders and local officials to prepare for, respond to, and recover from catastrophic events resulting from natural events, man-made accidents, or terrorist attacks. Congressionally mandated and partially funded by the U.S. Congress, NERRTC was the founding member of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium. Since its inception, NERRTC has provided local, state, and federal jurisdictions with high-quality, hands-on, scenario-driven leadership training, exercises, technical assistance, and strategy development.