Forty five FEMA employees attended the first FEMA Incident Workforce Academy (FIWA) held at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Ala., Jan. 27 – Feb. 7.

The two-week academy is a new FEMA initiative to prepare all new FEMA employees for their roles and responsibilities during deployments, according to Melissa Weida Ventresca, Ed.D.,

Chief of the Mission Support Branch.

"Every FEMA employee is an emergency manager who may be called upon to deploy in response to a disaster," said Ventresca. "We want to make sure every employee is trained and ready for those responsibilities."

The students include full-time FEMA employees, Cadre of On-Call Response/Recovery employees (COREs) and Reservists.

"The intent is to ensure that no matter what role you play in FEMA's mission, you are trained and ready to deploy," said Ventresca. "This course makes sure everyone is receiving the same training. It's also a great networking opportunity. FEMA employees who serve in different capacities across the country get to meet and learn from each other."

FIWA, through a joint effort between the Incident Workforce Management Division, the Emergency Management Institute and the CDP will conduct nine more FIWA courses are during 2014. All of the courses are slated to be taught at the CDP.

"The CDP is a great facility," Ventresca said. "They have plenty of classrooms and dorms and the weather is usually pretty good, although they did get a couple inches of snow that shut them down one day, which is rare for that area."