More than 130 emergency responders from the state of Maryland, including members of the Baltimore Regional Incident Management Team (IMT), joined more than 100 other emergency responders from across the United States recently. These emergency responders trained together at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) located in Anniston, Ala.
After more than a year in planning, the Baltimore Regional IMT demonstrated its ability to operate in response to a major incident—manmade, accidental or a natural disaster. Additionally, Baltimore is designated as part of the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI)—a designation for select high-threat, high-density urban areas.
The CDP supports all UASI cities and counties across the United States in multi-discipline training, planning and response and recovery techniques resulting from acts of terrorism.
“We worked closely with Baltimore’s Regional IMT to meet their training needs and goals and provide a training and learning environment that mirrored a realistic incident to a mass casualty event,” said Bernice Zaidel, assistant director of Curriculum Development and Evaluation. “The after action review process identified areas of improvement for CDP and the Baltimore IMT. The CDP offers a flexible environment where many scenarios can be modified to best meet the needs of the audience. The week’s activities allowed the Baltimore IMT to work closely with class team leaders to effectively plan and execute for any type of hazard or event.”
The Baltimore-based responders and other students trained in five different courses that focus on emergency management, healthcare, the fire service, law enforcement, emergency medical services and hazardous materials.
“This type of training allows our team to deploy to an unfamiliar location and unknown situation and manage the incident on arrival,” said Richard Freas, Program Manager for the Baltimore Regional IMT. “Bringing our IMT here is a new concept and I believe we’ve developed a program other IMTs can use.”
Baltimore’s Regional IMT was developed as a Type III team (following 9/11) that focuses response on all-hazards and weather-related incidents such as flooding, hurricanes and tornadoes. Freas says the Type III IMT responds to just about anything that can happen.
“You fight like you train,” said Freas. “If you don’t have reality in training, and reality in training requires a lot of people—a lot of moving parts—but if you don’t have reality, when something happens you’re not going to be as prepared.”
“This was as realistic as you can make it,” said Andrew O’Neil from the Baltimore County Police. “There is not much training that put us in full hazmat suits and uses the training that we learned, not only from the police academy, but from your whole week here. It brought everything together and allowed us to use the training and be realistic.”
The Baltimore team arrived at the CDP with nearly 20 IMT members. The plan was to lead and manage the response to a mass casualty incident with a team of close to 245 emergency responders, more than 100 from the Baltimore region.
Participants from the regions Health and Medical Taskforce were part of the Maryland cohort. They were placed in unfamiliar situations and came together as a team under the IMT’s direction. According to the Emergency Management Coordinator at Maryland’s Northwest Hospital, the opportunity to network, communicate and establish relationships with regional hospitals was a major benefit.
“A key objective is to develop your network prior to an actual event,” said Ericka Wylie from Northwest Hospital. “Neighboring hospitals have filled gaps and the training challenged participants to provide forward-thinking goals while maintaining realistic expectations. Understanding mass casualty response is a pulse point for our region and the regional IMT exercise was beneficial to test concepts and theories.”
“This week was important because all the moving pieces were able to come together for the one culminating exercise,” said Captain Mike Sharpe, Howard County (Md.) Fire and Rescue. “We can do small-scale training, but to put all the disciplines together with the IMT’s oversight was probably priceless. Now we identify shortcomings within each discipline and in areas we need to train or create policy to remove stumbling blocks.”
CDP training is fully funded and came at no cost to the state of Maryland or local jurisdictions.
This was an opportunity for Baltimore’s Regional IMT to completely exercise its ability to manage an incident involving multiple disciplines. The training was intended to maintain proficient emergency incident and disaster management skills and include regional agencies.
“Any city or region that can come here and train together will work much better as a team if something bad happens,” said Freas. “The experience here identified processes and procedures that can change and made us more familiar with other regional departments, which made us more cohesive.”
The CDP plays a leading role in preparing state, local and tribal responders to prepare for and respond to manmade events or major accidents involving mass casualties. To learn more about the Center for Domestic Preparedness, visit http://cdp.dhs.gov or call 866-213-9553. Visit the CDP on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn