USAFA, city combines for joint FEMA exercise

Members from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Schriever Air Force Base and Peterson AFB discuss the current scenario with Douglas Kahn, a Federal Emergancy Management Agency instructor, during the final day of a four-day course used to train and test a communities preparedness March 22. Numerous Colorado Springs city and El Paso county departments convened in Colorado Springs for a four-day integrated emergency management course that culminated in testing the communities response to multiple and varied accidents and incidents during an exercise.

Members from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Schriever Air Force Base and Peterson AFB discuss the current scenario with Douglas Kahn, a Federal Emergancy Management Agency instructor, during the final day of a four-day course used to train and test a communities preparedness March 22. Numerous Colorado Springs city and El Paso county departments convened in Colorado Springs for a four-day integrated emergency management course that culminated in testing the communities response to multiple and varied accidents and incidents during an exercise.

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- First responders from the Academy, Colorado Springs and El Paso County convened in Colorado Springs late last month for a four-day emergency management course tailored to meet the emergency management needs of the community.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency-training included several scenarios: a commercial airplane crash outside of an airport, a gastrointestinal outbreak at a university, a hazardous material spill on a major highway, and emphasized response and short-term recovery based on hazard type.

This is just the latest in a series of joint-training events motivated in part, by the natural disasters and fires that have plagued Colorado during recent years.

"The community requests us to come out and put on this training and we tailor it to what they request," said Douglas Kahn, a FEMA training organizer. "We bring all the community players from the mayor to emergency management together and we observe them as they run through each scenario. This includes activating the emergency operations center which includes all of the sections necessary for that entity to run."

The training allowed the first responders to cope with a variety of situations in a stress free environment to help perfect their processes, Kahn said.

The event included several Colorado Spring's city agencies - public safety, emergency management and public works, among them - and local service members
One positive outcomes of the training was identifying a way the city emergency management team could benefit from a practice used by USAFA, said Andre Mouton, the 10th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency manager.

"There were multiple disciplines and aspects of incident management and I'm happy that we were included," he said. "That's what this whole training is about - pooling all the experience together to be better prepared for future incidents."

Staff Sgt. Katherine Benoit, an emergency manager stationed at Schriever AFB said she jumped at the opportunity to participate.

"This training was an opportunity for me to see how the city of Colorado Springs operates during these types of events," she said. "We could definitely take some of their practices and incorporate them out at Schriever. I know I plan on using some of their exercise scenarios they expressed here at Schriever."