By Shannon Arledge, Center for Domestic Preparedness
If past Super Bowls are any indication, Super Bowl XLVIII stands to pack more than 70,000 fans in the bleachers of MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The Meadowlands Sports Complex will be the spectacle of the most popular program on television, Feb. 2, 2014.
As tragic memories of double explosions during the final leg of the Boston Marathon are vivid as if it happened yesterday, New Jersey emergency responders remain vigilant in preparation for the big game. Recently, more than 100 New Jerseyans, including fire fighters, medical staff members, law enforcement, hazardous materials, and radiological responders joined together at FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Ala., in preparation for perhaps the largest sporting event of the year.
“This training is part of our preparation plans,” said Kelley Esposito, regional director of safety for Barnabas Health, Toms River, N.J. “We’ve already developed a Medical Coordination Center and have a staffing plan ready for the Super Bowl. This training helps us that much more and activation of the MCC will have a smoother flow.”
The emergency workers each attended one of four CDP courses during the week—each having a focus on a catastrophic event resulting in mass casualties. At the end of training, the students were introduced to the CDP’s Integrated Capstone Event where students from individual courses join forces in a single exercise; all of the students working together in a single response.
“If a large-scale event occurs during the Super Bowl, a portion of the resources that would respond are here,” said Jim Rapp, emergency response specialist from the New Jersey State Police Hazardous Material Response Unit. “Having the possibility for our agencies to work together to fine tune and hone our response capabilities is an opportunity to prepare and perfect our plan.”
“The ICE provides an extra sense of realism to our game plan,” said Rodric Bowman, deputy chief of planning and project management for the N.J. Department of Homeland Security. “This parallels real world. If a hazardous event occurs, we are going to work with other partners and agencies. The CDP training mirrored a real-life event and made us all more confident. This environment allows everyone to use the knowledge they have and also learn new ways to conduct business.”
CDP training focuses on incident management, mass casualty response, and emergency response to a catastrophic disaster or terrorist act. In addition to unique venues, the CDP offers the latest techniques and procedures and provides responders the chance to use a broad range of equipment during their training.
“Without preparedness you can’t respond and preparedness involves training and planning,” said Rapp. “Once the plan is put down on paper you have to make sure it is going to work. That is all part of the preparedness process. Training like this brings together the different players so they can see if their individual agency plans mesh with other agencies.”
Training provided within states and local jurisdictions by state and local trainers is a critical component of national preparedness. A select few of the New Jersey response teams also finished the week with an eight-hour Train-the-Trainer, or TtT, course, allowing them to continue training more emergency responders at home. Through qualified TtT programs, CDP graduates deliver TtT courses in their home organization and neighboring response units. These trainers deliver training in their jurisdictions and receive ongoing administrative support and certification from the CDP.
“We train together back home and the [TtT] course makes it possible for others to receive this training,” said Esposito. “This is a major benefit to bring back to our home agency in an effort to prepare more of our staff. We are better able to develop our plans for a Super Bowl emergency resulting in a mass casualty incident.”
In addition to the training received in Anniston, the CDP provided non-resident training to nearly 100 other law enforcement officers in the Garden State earlier this year. These emergency responders all have the ability to respond confidently and safely in the event of an incident during the Super Bowl. As the state prepares for the February gridiron showdown, they continue to plan and prepare others on their staffs, using CDP training, techniques and course materials in an effort to save lives and respond appropriately.
The CDP provides America’s emergency responders with skills for response to potential terrorism, making America a safer place. Preparing a nation capable of protecting itself and responding to critical emergencies are among the many accomplishments realized each week at the Alabama training center. CDP training for state, local, and tribal responders is fully funded by FEMA, a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.