CDP Terrorism Training For Emergency Responders

In June 1998, the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP) established a terrorism training center for emergency responders, the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP). CDP's mission is to "Operate a public training center to...


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CDP Instructor Training Certification Course (ITC), under development, will be a five-day course that provides instruction on adult learning theory and practice, job and training task analysis, training risk and hazard analysis, developing learning objectives and lesson plans, communication skills, instruction delivery and delivery media, developing tests and conducting evaluations, and performing after-action reviews. The classroom sections of the training will be supported by practical exercises that require the student to perform and teach tasks associated with WMD techniques, procedures and equipment to support classroom lessons. Upon completion, the student will receive certification from the CDP as a Department of Justice recognized instructor. Applicants must have completed a resident CDP WMD training course. This course was scheduled to be on-line at the end of the summer 2003 and will be delivered as resident and field programs. Also planned is a WMD Specialist course designed for hazmat technicians, but focusing on more classroom training on legal aspects, federal response and other topics.

EAI Corp. contracts with the Justice Department and conducts all training classes at CDP and the field. EAI has assembled an impressive cadre of instructors with strong backgrounds in chemical agents, biological agents, and ordnance through military and federal agencies. Instructors also include emergency response personnel who have taken part in terrorist events, including bombings in New York City, the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11, the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, and bombings at Olympic Park and other locations near Atlanta. During each training session, subject matter "experts" from across the nation are brought in to conduct short presentations, including some evening sessions. Those experts include FBI technical experts, bomb squad members, biological agent specialists from Fort Detrick, MD, and chemical agent experts from Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, as well as from Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis and other locations.

Facilities at CDP that make the training experience unique include "Responder City, Alabama" and the WMD Toxic Agent Training facility. Responder City is a mock community of 20 commercial and residential buildings. Normal-sized city streets complete with fire hydrants weave through the facility. This urban training environment allows exercises to be conducted with a level of realism above what most response personnel have been previously experienced. Equipment for the training exercises include chemical protective clothing, self-contained breathing apparatus, decontamination, detection instruments and other materials needed to mitigate the exercise incidents.

In addition to typical hazmat type functions of a terrorist incident, training time is also devoted to evidence preservation and recovery missions. Realistic evidence is "planted" to give the exercise credibility. The overall format of CDP training provides police with a chance to perform typical fire service functions and firefighters the chance to perform police evidence functions.

Live-Agent Training

The WMD Toxic Agent Training Facility is the only site in the country that lets response personnel work in a live-agent environment with Sarin (GB) and VX nerve agents. International treaties prevent any other such facilities from being constructed in the United States. This opportunity helps responders build confidence in their equipment and reduces fear of the unknown. Safety is stressed throughout the course and particularly during live-agent training. Over 70,000 people, including 20,000 emergency responders and 50,000 military personnel, have gone through the live-agent facility without any training-related incident or injury.

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Photo by Robert Burke
A bomb-making laboratory adds realism to the CDP training evolutions.

The day of the live-agent evolutions response personnel eat a big breakfast. Blood is drawn a minimum of 30 minutes following eating. No smoking or drinking is allowed 30 minutes before the blood draw. Before entry, personnel are screened and evaluated by an on-site doctor and occupational health nurse. Vitals are taken, blood is drawn for a baseline cholinesterase level and eyesight is tested. Fit tests for respirators are conducted with both qualitative and quantitative procedures. Respirators used are military issue M40s with organic vapor charcoal filters. Protective equipment is issued and fitted. Lanx charcoal suits are used and autoclaved after each use for decontamination. Personnel are trained in donning the personnel protective equipment and they dress and undress themselves.

A hands-on exercise is conducted in a non-agent atmosphere for practice. Following a break, responders go into the live-agent facility for the evolutions. A final fit test is conducted with amyl acetate or stannic chloride in insure proper mask fit before entry to the live-agent atmosphere. Several evolutions are conducted involving detection instrumentation, rescue of victims, evidence collection, decontamination and preservation, and others. Each group spends 11/2 to two hours inside the live-agent facility.