Five police officers from Long Beach, Calif., recently attended training at FEMA's Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP), in Anniston, Ala. The officers enrolled in three courses with a goal to increase their knowledge in response to a toxic agent or biological incident. The CDP training allows the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) to remain current with California safety mandates and lays the foundation for future training opportunities through the CDP's academy training program.

"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."

Of the three courses, two are focused on law enforcement response?the Enforcement Protective Measures (LEPM) and Law Enforcement Response Actions (LERA) courses. These CDP courses provide instruction on Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) related topics that include terrorist tactics and targeting, as well as hands-on training designed to improve chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive or CBRNE-specific response skills. The final course of the week is an eight hour class called Hands-On Training (HOT) for CBRNE Incidents.

"This training provides a great deal of knowledge to safely respond to a hazardous incident," added Lebaron. "It also provides refresher skills to properly manage a contaminated crime scene and 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."

The LEPM and LERA are both one day courses, and the HOT course requires a day at the CDP's toxic agent facility?The Chemical, Ordnance, Biological and Radiological (COBRA) Training Facility. The COBRA Training Facility offers the only program in the nation featuring emergency response training exercises using toxic chemical agents and biological materials. The experience teaches graduates how 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 sustain skills, response actions and protective measures learned during the training for their department. Ultimately, they plan to deliver classes at the basic level?teaching these skills to police recruits during academy training.

The CDP provides emergency responders with necessary skills to respond to and manage incidents. This training provides the tools needed to protect America's responders from contaminated crime scenes or accidents, and effectively save lives. The center offers 40 plus courses designed for all emergency response disciplines. At the CDP, training for state and local responders is fully funded by FEMA, a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Round-trip air and ground transportation, lodging, and meals are provided at no cost to responders or their agency or jurisdiction.