Police Training for Hazardous Threats

Five police officers from Long Beach, California, recently trained at the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, Alabama. The officers had enrolled in three courses to increase their own knowledge about toxic-agent or biological incidents. The training they received will in fact: (a) help all members of the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) stay current with California safety mandates; and (b) lay the foundation for other low/no-cost training opportunities in the future.

“We have 800 officers in our department that require this type of training,” said Sgt. Ryan Lebaron, LBPD training coordinator. “Attending these CDP courses provides us a credible background to deliver training at home following the Train-the-Trainer course we plan to take next.”

Two of the three CDP courses the LBPD officers attended – the Law Enforcement Protective Measures (LEPM) and Law Enforcement Response Actions (LERA) – are intensive one-day sessions focused on law enforcement response capabilities. Both courses provide detailed “hands-on” training on topics directly related to situations involving weapons of mass destruction – terrorist tactics and targeting, for example – with special focus on the response skills needed to cope with various CBRNE (chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and/or explosive) hazards and incidents. The final course of the very busy week was an eight-hour simply called HOT (Hands-On Training) for CBRNE Incidents.

“This training provides a great deal of knowledge to safely respond to a hazardous incident,” Lebaron commented. “It also provides refresher skills to properly manage a contaminated crime scene and … [to develop the] abilities to triage and decontaminate survivors if needed. When we are able to provide training at home, it will be beneficial for all of our officers, and the public we serve.”

HOT Experience & a Win-Win Scenario

The HOT course requires participation in a day of training at the CDP’s toxic-agent “practice field” – known as the COBRA (Chemical, Ordnance, Biological, and Radiological) training facility, which offers the only program in the entire country featuring emergency response training exercises using “real-life” toxic chemical agents and biological materials. The COBRA experience significantly enhances the ability of CDP graduates to effectively prevent, respond to, and recover from incidents involving chemical weapons and other hazardous materials.

“The confidence we gained in our equipment is a major take-away,” said Lebaron. “It is one thing to be told how we should perform certain procedures, but until you get the first-hand experience … [working with actual toxic chemicals] you are not fully confident. Taking this knowledge home is a win-win for our department.”

The end-goal for the LBPD is to both sustain and build on the skills, response actions, and protective measures learned during the CDP training. The attendees then will be expected to provide the same type of training locally, at the basic level, by teaching the skills to recruits at the department’s own police academy.

Today, and for many years to come, police and other emergency responders throughout the country will require a broad spectrum of both knowledge and operational skills to respond to and successfully manage all types of potentially lethal incidents and events. The CDP training courses also focus on and enhance many of the basic skills needed to help protect the nation’s responders from contaminated crime scenes or accidents, and effectively save lives.

The center currently offers more than 40 courses designed for all emergency-response disciplines – and enhances the training with a fiscal bonus: The training provided at the CDP for state and local responders is fully funded by FEMA, a major branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Round-trip air and ground transportation, lodging, and meals also are provided – at no cost to the responders or to their various agencies and/or political jurisdictions.

Shannon Arledge

Shannon Arledge is a public affairs specialist at the FEMA Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama. A retired Marine gunnery sergeant, he served in numerous public affairs/public information assignments during his 20 years on active duty, including tours of duty at Headquarters Marine Corps, the Defense Information School, and Marine Barracks Washington. He deployed twice to the Persian Gulf – in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom – as Public Affairs Chief for Marine Forces U.S. Central Command (Forward) and Public Affairs Chief for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. A graduate of the Defense Information School for Public Affairs and Visual Information, he also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Management from the University of Phoenix.



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