Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) Celebrates Decade of Training

Since its beginning its training programs more than a decade ago, the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) has played a pivotal role in the nation’s preparedness. Born from anea to prepare state and local emergency responders from acts of terrorism involving Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), the CDP has become a premier federal training facility offering a unique hands-on training experience. The CDP recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, before a capacity crowd that included federal, state, and local dignitaries. Among those in attendance was FEMA Administrator R. David Paulison. He spoke of the importance of ensuring responders have the right tools for the right job, and how the CDP is providing the experience necessary to equip the nation’s response force. “After training just over 2,500 responders in its first year, the CDP team now trains an average of more than 60,000 responders each year,” said Paulison. “As of this past May, the CDP has trained [more than] 355,000 responders representing every state in the union, each of our territories and many of our international allies in its first decade of operation. This is truly a record of which to be proud.” The origins of the CDP can be traced to the 1995 Aum Shinriyko Sarin nerve agent attacks on the Tokyo subway system. As that event unfolded, New York City public safety officials sought ways to prevent such an event in their city. The officials requested that the Department of Defense (DoD) allow civilian responders to train at the U.S. Army’s Chemical School’s Chemical Defense Training Facility (CDTF) at Ft. McClellan, near Anniston, Alabama. DoD officials granted access to toxic agent training and the first of civilian emergency responders graduated in late 1995. Civilian responders continued training at the Army facility until 1999, when Ft. McClellan officially closed followingentification by the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission. Under the leadership of the Department of Justice (DoJ), the federal government assumed the responsibility of training America’s civilian responders. Richard Brazicki, from the New York City Port Authority and New Jersey Police Department, was among the first civilian emergency responders to train in 1995, and has returned to the CDP for follow-on training. “Unfortunately, four of our officers who attended the initial training at Ft. McClellan were killed in the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001,” said Brazicki. “We lost a total of 37 police officers who responded to the attacks. As I sat in the room and walked the halls during my recent training at the CDP, I felt admiration for all the first responders attending training at the center. I wished that they could feel the importance attached to the specialized training, as I did. I hope they would never have to deal with a terrible tragedy. But I know they would survive because of their CDP training.” The CDP is a vital component of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Preparedness Directorate, in the Department of Homeland Security. It is the nation’s only federally-chartered Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) training facility for civilian emergency responders. The center’s program offers 38 unique courses that provide emergency responders with a wide range of challenging training. Courses are available as resident, non-resident (mobile), and indirect (Train-the-Trainer) programs. A highlight of the anniversary celebration was the introduction of more than 50 responder students who represented the United States and its territories. The men and women marched before the crowd as their names and jurisdictions were announced. Applause continued until all names were called. “I was so pleased and honored to represent the State of Mississippi,” said Selvain McQueen of the Columbus Police Department. “I’ve been all around the country and I rank the training here second to none. This place hits on all cylinders, and I was honored to be here for the anniversary.” “[The CDP] has become a tremendous and valuable asset to this country’s preparedness,” added Paulison. “I’m very proud of it and very excited to be here.” A unique feature of the CDP training program is the Chemical, Ordnance, Biological, and Radiological Training Facility (COBRATF), where training exercises are conducted in a nerve agent environment, using GB and VX. The use of genuine nerve agents promotes confidence and the advanced hands-on training enables responders to effectively prevent, respond to, and recover from real-world incidents involving acts of terrorism and other hazardous materials. Another unique feature of the CDP program is the Noble Training Facility (NTF)—a former U.S. Army hospital that was converted into a training site for health and medical education in disasters, to include acts of terrorism and manmade emergencies. The NTF is the only hospital facility in the United States dedicated to training hospital and healthcare professionals in emergency preparedness and response. “The course material and instructors are top notch and well worth any [emergency] responder’s time,” stressed Brazicki. “I am glad that the Department of Homeland Security has such a dedicated staff to prepare us for whatever may come our way.”

To learn more about the Center for Domestic Preparedness, visit http://cdp.dhs.gov FEMA’s mission is to reduce the loss of life and property and to protect the Nation from all hazards, including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters, by leading and supporting the Nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation. For more information, contact: Shannon Arledge, Public Information Specialist Center for Domestic Preparedness Federal Emergency Management Agency U.S. Department of Homeland Security Phone: (256) 847.2212 Website: http://cdp.dhs.gov