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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Following the evolutions, personnel go through decontamination. After removal of PPE, they shower with cold water as a precaution to keep pores from opening and allowing easy entry for any contaminants that may be present. No bleach is used. Following redressing, 30 minutes later responders receive medical surveillance and 12 hours later have blood redrawn to determine any increases in levels of cholinesterase.

The live-agent building is equipped with TV monitors and agent alarms that are set to go off prior to reaching the IDLH (immediately dangerous to life and health) level for nerve agents. Anticipation of entry into the live-agent area has been described as having a stress level similar to someone jumping out of an airplane with a parachute for the first time.

Registration Process

Application to all CDP courses is handled through a state coordinator, usually a staff person of the state emergency management agency. Priority for attendance is established at the state level and applications are submitted to the state coordinator. CDP attendees must have completed approved WMD awareness-level training.

CDP classes are three to five days in length, excluding the arrival day. The training facility is located in Anniston, AL, at the 45,000-acre former U.S. Army post Fort McClellan. CDP encompasses 114.7 acres with 34 buildings and 778,536 square feet of space. The training facility is 50 minutes east of Birmingham and 90 minutes west of Atlanta.

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Photo Courtesy of Center for Domestic Preparedness
Emergency responders use M-8 detection strips on the live nerve agents Sarin and VX in the WMD Toxic Agent Training Facility.

CDP students are provided with pre-paid electronic airline tickets, onsite lodging and meals, and all training materials free of charge to them or their jurisdictions. The only cost for sending personnel to the CDP is the time they are away from their jobs.

Students fly to Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, where a charter bus takes them to the training facility. Support personnel for CDP are at the airport to assist arriving students in finding the bus and securing their luggage for departure. Upon arrival at Fort McClellan, orientation is conducted by the registrar's office. An overview of the campus and services provided is presented and all required paperwork sent in the information packet is completed and collected. This packet includes medical questionnaire, authorization, and general release and agreement.

Rooms at the facility are comfortable with television, alarm clocks and telephones. A pub is also located on the facility for the relaxation of students when they are not attending training sessions. Truman Gym, owned by the City of Anniston, is adjacent to the CDP. Courtesy passes are provided to responders attending training. Facilities at the gym include heated indoor pool, racquetball, sauna, Nautilus room, free-weight room and basketball. Transportation is provided to and from all training areas and support facilities. The shuttle operates on an as-needed basis in and around surrounding community.

Attire for training is casual and may include shorts and tennis shoes for summer months or blue jeans in cooler seasons. Work uniforms may also be worn if desired. During the outdoor training, durable "work-type" clothing should be worn. Students attending the hazardous materials course must be in good physical condition due to heat and work conditions in Level A, B and C chemical protective clothing.

Students who participate in the optional WMD Toxic Agent (COBRA) Training exercise must have blood pressure not to exceed 150 over 90, no facial hair that prevents proper seal of a mask and have not suffered heat stroke within 72 hours of training. Blood will be drawn before and after entry to the Toxic Agent Facility to ensure no exposures occurred during the training. Cameras may be used during all programs at the CDP except for the Toxic Agent Facility. Class photographs are taken during the course and can be purchased for $12.

Every effort is made by CDP staff to meet the needs of students during the program. Safety is stressed throughout and every precaution is taken to ensure a safe and successful training experience. Course managers conduct a briefing on the first day of training, highlighting the training events.