National certification available to students completing anti-terrorism defensive operations course

7/17/2003 12:00 AM

Emergency responders can now earn national ProBoard certification for anti-terrorism training in defensive operations, which is offered through a grant from the Office for Domestic Preparedness of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The course is also eligible for college credit through the Academic Council on Education (ACE).

“WMD/Terrorism Incident Defensive Operations for Emergency Responders” is the first anti-terrorism course that offers certification upon completion through the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications (Pro Board). In July, ACE evaluated the course and recommended upper division college credit in emergency management, hazardous materials or criminal justice categories, said program manager Jon Swain.

The new course is aimed at awareness level-trained emergency responders in a community or jurisdiction who will respond to a WMD/terrorism incident. Participants include responders from the fire service, law enforcement, public works, EMS, emergency management, public health and health care. The curriculum for the 24-hour course incorporates classroom lectures, interactive participant activities, performance-oriented skills stations, small group discussions, multimedia scenarios, and a written exam required to earn the ProBoard - Operations Level certification.

The Defensive Operations course is offered by the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center and coordinated by the TEEX Emergency Services Training Institute (ESTI). A $2 million federal grant is funding the course development, training equipment purchases and 39 course deliveries during 2003.

“Our task is to deliver the training to all 50 states and territories,” said program manager Jon Swain. He said ESTI was picked to coordinate the training because of its extensive experience in hazardous materials training. The new course meets the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 472 Standard, he added.

“The operations level responders work in a defensive posture outside the hot zone to support the technicians working inside the hot zone. Those trained in defensive operations can perform diking, damming or other containment procedures, as well as decontamination. They work at the scene of the incident to protect the public, property and the environment,” said course coordinator Al Bresley.

Swain said course participants learn to don and work in personal protective equipment, including self-contained breathing apparatus. They learn to operate detection equipment, establish a perimeter at the incident, and to activate local, county, state and national emergency response plans. Operations level training is a prerequisite for responders who wish to obtain the technician level of training.

By the end of August, the course will have been delivered to 16 locations in eight states. Each class includes up to 30 participants and is taught by a team of three instructors, who travel with two large shipping containers of equipment used for the hands-on training and skills tests.

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