Spring 2017

There is no better disaster training than hands-on, real-life disaster response. Problem solving in crisis is a hallmark of disaster response and is difficult to replicate. When personnel return to their own agencies from a disaster, they are far better able to respond to disaster in their own communities. They have experienced the vast number of problems and situations that will pop up in real disaster events. Instead of sending per- sonnel to table top exercises and undergoing theoretical scenarios, personnel experience the disaster recov- ery and aftermath first-hand.

The cooperation and networking that our personnel experience by working with officers from other agencies at disaster scenes is valuable for future events that may strike our own communities. Knowing the people and the resources available locally is very helpful and valuable to first responders. Knowing names and faces and the expertise that comes with the local responders is a valuable asset during crisis. Knowing what radio frequencies are in use, high liability practices, patrol protocols and all activities on a firsthand basis will help personnel during crisis.

The cost is reimbursable. The expense of sending personnel to gain this knowledge and to render aid is borne by the State of Florida, so as long as agencies respond within the framework of the EOC and have a tracking number and assignment. The costs that will be returned to the responding agency are comprehensive. Fuel, personnel salaries and benefits, housing, food, and the cost of the equipment sent are all reimbursable to participating agencies. Instead of incurring the costs to train personnel and pay for tuition, housing, travel, per diem and the like, expenses are reimbursed and personnel receive more directed and specific training in actual disasters.

The positive public relations from participating can not be overstated. The obvious goodwill that such an en- deavor generates, inures personnel participating, agencies participating and chiefs and political leaders that commit to the project. There can also be unforeseen positive spin-offs. In the wake of our agency response to Hurricane Katrina, the local school parent-teacher association wanted to support our activities. They asked how they could help and were informed that our officers were sent on a moments notice and did not have all the necessary items in the trailer they were occupying. The PTA asked for list of needed items. We gave them a very comprehensive list, which included some ‘wish-list’ items like indoor-outdoor carpeting and camp chairs. They raised the funds and obtained and donated every single item we requested. The list ranged from personal items like soap and body powder to pots and pans. Our trailer is now completely equipped for fu- ture events and we have totally outfitted it at no cost to the City or our agency.

Our response is targeted, effective and essential to the requesting agency. Local law enforcement agencies have the experience and expertise to render meaningful aid to those in need where it is needed. We deal with the needs of the public daily and have vast experience directing traffic, responding to crime and provid- ing security for impacted communities. Our task forces can provide immediate and effective assistance to re- questing agencies with little or no direction. We can be given our mission and can perform the tasks required because they are the same tasks that we perform in our own communities daily.

Your participation enables all of us to be prepared for disasters from all hazards. Our response can cover large geographical distances and provide long term assistance. Our past efforts dealing with hurricanes have placed us in the forefront of preparedness for all disasters and for Homeland Security. By taking the storm response model and applying it to terrorism, Florida is on the cutting edge of disaster response. By taking that enhanced all-hazards response model and re-applying it to hurricanes, we are even better prepared for future events.

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