EP 68 Behind the Scenes of the National Training Center

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Behind the Scenes of the National Training Center



[TONYA HOOVER] “The concept of working together doesn’t mean you have to have some major disaster. That should be a norm in our communities.”

[TODD DEVOE] Hey, and welcome to EM Weekly. This is your host, Todd DeVoe speaking. And a couple of things are going around here. One is, thank you all for sticking here with us. We’ve been transitioning from one studio to another, and we’re not quite up and running yet here. I’m sitting amongst our moving boxes and things like that, and it’s exciting at one part, we’ll be able to bring you some deeper quality interviews with sound. Not quality of the interview, just definitely the sound, we’re working on that. This has been a learning experience for me through this whole process and thank you for learning with me and sticking with EM Weekly. So, I am your host, and I am here for you.

So, it’s my pleasure to bring to you two guests. One is Steve Heidecker, and the other one is Tonya Hoover. And Steve Heidecker is from EMI, and Chief Tonya Hoover is from the National Fire Administration. And as emergency managers, we need to keep learning, and these two individuals lead national training programs here, and I’m really excited to have them on here, talking about training, their ideas, and some of the things that are happening in the future.

Before I get into this interview, I want to take a little time to wish the United States of America happy birthday. You’ll be listening to this episode– if you’re listening to it on a regular basis, right after the 4th of July, this one should be landing on the 5th of July. And you know, I’m really excited to be here in America for the opportunities that we have. And there are times when we can be better. We’re growing; constantly growing. And I know that we strive for the best that we can possibly be. And this is really shown by other people that want to live here in the United States. And I know that we can do things better, but I think that our profession and emergency responders that go out there every day, and the military, and the teachers, really show what America really is all about, and that is service and giving up oneself.

And I just want to thank you all that listen to this podcast, because I know you are all service-minded people. And thank you for giving up yourself. And I know that there’s a lot of people that worked yesterday. I used to be out there on the 4th of July every year, and this year I was blessed not to have to work on the 4th of July. But those of you that had to, I really understand, and I’ve been there for many years in a row. And thank you for what you guys do out there on a daily basis. Thank you for listening to the EM Weekly show, and again, I can’t do this without you.

If you guys have any guests that you’d like to hear, or if you’d like to comment, please do. Go to EMWeekly.com. You can go ahead and find the forums there as well, or go to forums.emweekly.com, and come check us out. I’d love to have you. So anyway, let’s listen to what the NTC has to say.

[TODD DEVOE] Hey, I’m so excited today, here at EM Weekly, to have Steve Heidecker from EMI, and Chief Tonya Hoover, from Fire Administration, to talk about what their programs are, upon the (unintelligible 00:03:37.15) side of things. So, Steve and Chief Hoover, welcome to EM Weekly.

[STEVE HEIDECKER] Thanks, Todd. Great to be here.

[TONYA HOOVER] Thank you, Todd.

[TODD DEVOE] So Steve, I want to start with you really quick. Tell me just a little bit about yourself and how you got involved in emergency management, and how you got to where you are today.

[STEVE HEIDECKER] Thanks, Todd. I think it would be best to say that I’m a learning professional in the field of emergency management. So, I came from a 20-year military career with a good understanding of the exercises and training. So when I moved from that field, I was interested in staying within that learning professional career field, and I found FEMA’s emergency management institute. So I’ve been here ten years. I do consider myself a learning professional, but I also volunteer at my local county emergency management agency, so I can better understand the training and exercising, and the students that come to FEMA’s EMI.

[TODD DEVOE] So, Chief Hoover, I know a little bit about your background and that you came from the golden state of California. And our experience here, obviously, with the wildfires and stuff that we work really close with; you’re a former (unintelligible 00:04:44.24) Cal Fire. So Chief, how did you get involved in Cal Fire, and then up until where you are today?

[TONYA HOOVER] I actually started in the fire services as volunteer. So, going back to my early days, growing up in South Central Pennsylvania, I was a volunteer junior member and then had a chance to go off to college and study fire protection. After college, I had the opportunity to transition to the California Fire Service, and I worked for a number of fire departments in plan review and fire prevention. Awesome opportunity to go work for and with Cal Fire, as the Assistant State Fire Marshall of California, and then transition into the State Fire Marshall, which, in that leadership role, even closer working relationship with local government and with Cal Fire, great organization, I learned an extreme amount of information over the time that I spent there in California and with Cal Fire, it was a great opportunity.

[TODD DEVOE] So Steve, back to you. So right now, you are over at the training side of the EMI. Tell me a little bit about the programs you have going on over there, and what you have coming up. And also, some of the challenges that are associated with it.

[STEVE HEIDECKER] Yeah, thanks, Todd. I think the program that we’re most proud of is our emergency management professional program, and I know you are familiar with that. Really, that’s how we are contributing to the professionalism of emergency management. We have a basic emergency manager academy that really is for that person who is new in the field, zero to three years. They come for our basic academy. We also have the advanced academy, for someone who’s been in the field for a while and is supervising other people, they would come to the advanced academy. And then finally, there’s our executive academy, that we hold. And that’s for those career leaders who have to think strategically and make strategic decisions. So, we’re most proud at this point of our emergency management professional program. But that’s not the only program that we have. Many of you are probably familiar with the master exercise practitioner program, master public information officer program.

But then we have some really good training on floodplain management, tribal training, continuity of operations, and then our national incident management system training. If we’re looking at collective training, then we’re most proud of our integrated emergency management courses. Those community specifics, like we’ve done for the city of Las Vegas, for (unintelligible 00:07:10.22). Those are courses that we bring in 75 government employees or private sector for that jurisdiction, we bring them here to Emmetsburg and put them through an exercise-based training course, to prepare them for the threats and hazards that they would face within their jurisdiction.

We’re starting to get our foot wet into virtual tabletop exercises, webinars, podcasts, and so, we’re really expanding our footprint, moving into a distance learning environment. And then finally, I do want to give a shout out to our independent study program. Those are the online awareness-level courses that you can take free of charge from FEMA. We get about 2 million course completions a year on that, and that really does help build a culture of preparedness, as the administrator talks about.

[TODD DEVOE] Chief Hoover, I want to just jump on the culture preparedness and what you guys are doing over at the Fire Administration. And I know that we have some– I don’t want to say rules, but some ideas and regulations that are coming out from the fire administration that kind of has some impact on emergency management. And I’m talking about them– and maybe you guys aren’t such– NFPA 3000?

[TONYA HOOVER] Oh, the National Fire Protection Association?


[TONYA HOOVER] New development standard on 3000, the active shooter standard, that’s actually part of the national fire protection association.

[TODD DEVOE] Right, right.

[TONYA HOOVER] I love that standard, right.

[TODD DEVOE] So things like these that are coming from the fireside, how do you see the national fire academy, the national fire administration, I’m sorry, working with emergency management on programs like the NFPA 3000 and really crossing those bridges between fire, EMS, police, and emergency management?

[TONYA HOOVER] Well, I think it’s important to recognize that the national fire academy, located here at the national emergency training center, it actually focuses on keeping those disasters or emergencies local via NFA actually using the leverage with our 50 state training partners, our local government partners, universities, State Fire Marshalls. We’re able to take this training, and you could say spread it out amongst the environment. Now, with something– you’re talking about something specific as the NFPA Standard 3000, which is a focused standard on an activity, where it brought law enforcement and fire together for incidents such as active shooters.

Again, that incident doesn’t just impact fire service; it impacts a whole community. But it’s very important that the fire service, police, and the whole community work collectively. And here at the national fire academy, one of the things that we do in our course, and our course here is the Command and Control. Within command and control is a scenario for active shooter, as well as any other large-scale disaster. And we are working harder to collaborate stronger with our partners, within EMI, to be able to cross-pollinate classes. Cross-pollinate deliveries, so that if you’re in our command and control class, you may have individuals, emergency managers from around the country come in and actually watch incident commanders operate within an environment, such as an active shooter.

At the same time, it gives– emergency operations or incident commanders interact with city, county administrators, and understand what their due diligence is during that type of an emergency. So it’s really a collaborative effort. The national standard, you could say, sets the stage. What we do here, at the National Fire Academy, is we take an individual that is in a position, and we want to make them better at that position. So whether it is command and control, premiere fire investigation here at the academy, fire prevention, and something broader, community risk reduction, which is a whole-community approach. We want to make you better at that. If you’re in fire and emergency services alike professions.

[TODD DEVOE] That’s awesome, this is really good stuff. I’d like to see more collaboration between fire, emergency management, and law enforcement. I got to take a class just a couple of weeks ago through TICS, which really was able to put the fire, police, and EMS together in the same room, train through a virtual– almost like a video game if you will, and it was really great training. And the best part about it, like anything else, was the ability to talk face-to-face with our partners in the other disciplines, to see really what they’re doing. And so, when game day comes down, that is not like– we have an idea of what everybody is doing and were able to collaborate earlier. So I’m really excited about that type of stuff.

Chief Hoover, back to you. So, what kind of training do you guys do at your facility?

[TONYA HOOVER] Well, the NFA provides education and training to the nation’s emergency responders. And the idea behind that education and training is to meet not just current but emerging community demands on their emergency providers. So, we have areas such as hazards materials, community risk reduction, fire arson detection, report writing, interview techniques, courtroom preparation. Our executive fire officer, which is our leadership, is a four-year program. It’s a premier program known throughout the world. Our managing officer program, also a premiere program, that is what I would consider fairly new. It’s about four years old, five years old.

We have an emergency medical services management. You were speaking about bringing EMS, fire, police together. And then we have our fire prevention and fire protection systems for the built environment, both fire prevention from a technical standpoint, and then fire prevention from a management standpoint. We deliver many of our courses, both on-campus, off-campus, and online. We’re expanding our online platform. Part of our expansion includes the wild and urban interface, and the situations surrounding and wild and urban interface. So, our goal here is to provide a learning environment that can either be done on-campus, off-campus through leveraging our state partners, or online.

[TODD DEVOE] That’s great. I mean, anything that can give more training out there, and quality training. Because as you know, obviously, this large uptake in mother nature deciding to play, she really wants to show us what she can do. We’ve got volcanos in Hawaii, we’ve got flooding in Maryland, we have (audio cuts off 00:13:48.27). Once we start taxing our local resources, we’re starting to bring people quickly from around the nation. Wildfires– obviously, California is always used to that, and the Western states that have a lot of interaction with other agencies from around the country and the nation– international too, with people coming from Mexico and Canada to help out with these fires. So, what can we do better, to prepare our partners for working together, inter-agency-wise?

[STEVE HEIDECKER] What I would say, Todd, what we need to do is share the case studies of where they are working well together. And we just had a symposium this past week where we had a speaker from Las Vegas Fire Department, who talked about the massacre that occurred in Las Vegas, and just how the agencies of law enforcement, police, the emergency management community, and all of the organizations that fall underneath that umbrella work together in the response and continue to work together in a short-term recovery of that.

So I think by capturing those best practices and talking about them within our training, we’re demonstrating where an integrated approach is most potable, the most efficient approach.

[TONYA HOOVER] Absolutely. The sharing of information is critical and breaking down silos, and recognizing that not one entity has responsibility or can do it alone. So again, every disaster is local. We want to keep them local. That means that the local resources have to be prepared to handle that emergency before, during, and after. And here, at the NATC, I think what we strive to do is make sure that we cross-pollinate both worlds.

[TODD DEVOE] Yeah, I think that’s super important, for us to cross-pollinate. You know, one of the things an emergency manager– what I like to say is that– and I teach my students as well. Our number one job, as emergency managers in a disaster is to coordinate (unintelligible 00:15:47.00). You know, we’re able to talk fire, we’re able to talk law, we’re able to talk EMS. We’re able to coordinate all those resources coming in to be able to respond for the greater good and for that one mission of saving lives and property during a disaster.

And you see a lot of cross-pollination in emergency management here on the West Coast. Are we seeing the same thing on the East Coast and the Midwest, and the South, and the rest of the country?

[TONYA HOOVER] Well, I think there’s always room for improvement. Some areas have built strong relationships based on the fact that they’ve had to work closer together. Fortunately, they’ve seen more catastrophic incidents. And I shouldn’t even say catastrophic incidents. You know, the concept of working together doesn’t mean you have to have some major disaster. That should be a norm in our communities. You know, I think maybe coming from California, spending so much time in California, we just kind of got used to working together. But that doesn’t mean that there weren’t always bumps on the road.

So I think that still applies throughout the country, the bumps in the road. And I think what’s really important is recognizing that happens, and that we need to drop that to the side. Or as I like to say, leave your baggage at the door. And we need to strive to work closer together, understand each other’s roles and responsibilities, better prepare. Because the bottom line is we’re working as one (unintelligible 00:17:13.23) communities.

[STEVE HEIDECKER] I’ll add to that. The FEMA administrator, Brock Long, talks a lot about the FEMA strategic plan and how it should be considered in the state and local level. And Brock talks a lot about federally supported, state-managed, locally executed. And so, that cross-combination may not be what we typically think of, but certainly, those three levels of government working together really help build a more prepared and resilient nation. So, that’s the cross-pollination that comes to mind for us, from it.

[TONYA HOOVER] And it’s important for local government to understand how to interact with state government, state government to understand how to interact with federal government. Because there are nuances across all of those platforms. You have to exercise, you have to build those relationships, and preparing your community for an incident and then being able to execute is based on relationships you built before, not during the incident.

[STEVE HEIDECKER] Yeah, that’s really a good point, thank you.

[TODD DEVOE] Chief, I think that’s going to answer my next question. I was going to ask what can we do to break down those silos, and I really think that building that relationships is true. Like, the old saying, you don’t want to exchange business cards in the back of a patrol car, right?

[TONYA HOOVER] That’s so true.

[STEVE HEIDECKER] I’ll tell you, another thing we can do is what the administrator talked about. Reducing the complexity of FEMA.


[STEVE HEIDECKER] So, if we become less complex, if we could make our programs and systems less complex, then many of those silos would be broken down because people would be thankful.

[TODD DEVOE] I think one of the things that we do well, and I’m going to add Orange County, California, on the back a little bit, is we have an organization that every month, all the emergency managers in the county get together. Whether it’s the special district, municipal, even private as well, to come to this meeting. And it’s a lot of exchange your business cards there before the disaster happens.

And when we do have an event, we all back each other up and respond to each other’s EOCs when needed. And the cool part about that too, is you have the people that are emergency managers, are collateral duty, right? You have the firefighters and police officers, which are (unintelligible 00:19:20.10) and are doing EM stuff, and are able to learn from the emergency management professionals. And again, on game day, we all know each other’s names and make sure we have each other’s personal phone numbers and stuff like this. So, I love the idea of collaborating at this level, and I think that if we do this nationally when we have these events like in Texas, that (audio cuts off 00:19:43.01), that we’re able to work closer together. What can we do, as a discipline, to really do more collaboration work across the borders?

[TONYA HOOVER] So, you mentioned Orange County, and I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Chief (unintelligible 00:20:03.26). And there’s an example of an individual that has built relationship across county lines, across state lines. And doing that means interacting with each other, you know? Attending national platform conferences, podcasts, keeping up with what’s the latest and greatest that’s going on, both locally and state, and then what’s happening within FEMA. Really, again, building those relationships on any given day, you may need somebody’s help.

[STEVE HEIDECKER] Yeah, Todd, and I think FEMA is putting their words into action with the implementation of the FEMA integration teams. North Carolina got the first FITeam or FEMA Integration Team, and that’s where full-time FEMA employees are embedded with the states and work with the states. And really, that will help states manage the disasters, have a better relationship with FEMA. So I think in that case, we’re really putting our money where our mouth is.

[TONYA HOOVER] Yeah, you look at things like (unintelligible 00:21:05.27) Teams, there’s a conglomeration or a group of individuals, multi-tasks, especially focused, that are not just limited to one area, and their ability to travel and help throughout the country, throughout the world. You look at incident management teams, whether they’re at a local level, or they’re at a larger state level, and then the federal incident management teams. So those are all examples of cross-pollination, breaking down silos, willing to get the job done without any consideration of rank or where they sit within an organization.

[STEVE HEIDECKER] And I think there’s also a realization that, under the national qualification system, when you have a disaster that impacts, say, the Southwest, and there will be resources available to you in the Northeast that under (unintelligible 00:21:55.06) you can begin to use and leverage those resources. So I think that’s exciting, and that’s a result of the hurricane season last year. FEMA is really emphasizing the national qualification system.

[TONYA HOOVER] And it’s important for states to understand that system, and people that work within those states to understand that system and how to access assets in the event of an emergency.

[TODD DEVOE] Speaking of using assets, and I kind of want to tap on this for a little bit. And chief, I know you started out as a volunteer as well. How do you see using like national volunteer organizations, like Team Rubicon, or the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, to name a couple. How do you see them being integrated into a national response framework?

[TONYA HOOVER] Well, they need to be. They had the ability to bring materials and individuals to an incident that, you know, a local government or state government may not have access to right away. They’re an important player, they need to be included in that response model. But again, you can’t have those conversations during the incident. Those are all the conversations in helping those folks understand the NIMS system, and where they sit within the structure. Those are all conversations you have to have before. Because we all know we can’t do it by yourselves.

[STEVE HEIDECKER] I would say it’s also interesting, from a training organization, we do these EMI e-forms, and we had Team Rubicon recently to talk about how they run their training programs, to make sure that they’re consistent with national incident management system. So, the VOADs also had some training resources, so the states holding training, integrate VOAD within them. But also, VOAD runs training and states can look to integrate themselves within that.

EM Weekly episode 68, Behind the scenes of the National Training Center[TODD DEVOE] And that’s really important too, I agree with you that making sure that those organizations are in the same page is awesome. I don’t want to use the word “credential,” but to make sure at least that they have the same basic training that everybody else is responding. I want to kind of go back a little bit to the active shooter model, and again, kind of just tap in on the training I just went through.

We really work a lot with the RTs, Rescue Task Force, pairing police up with fire to go down-range, to be able to start treating people in the warm zone or the super-warm zone, I guess, for lack of a better term. I know that there’s been some real push on getting more training for law enforcement, for the officers to understand how to use tourniquets, how to do some blood-stopping treatment very rapidly, and to move on. Do you see more training like this for the active shooter response from the national level?

[TODD DEVOE] Do you see more training like this for the active shooter response from the national level?

[TONYA HOOVER] Well, I’ll just speak to the national fire academy, and the model of the national fire academy. The model of the national fire academy is, we do training, specific to a skill set. And typically, you’re coming here with that skill set already in place. We’re not going to make you a firefighter one, we’re going to make you better at something. Now, when I said about our state partners, we do have strong partnerships with our state training directors, and many states are using this training that you’re speaking of, they’re including that in their state training delivery systems, and pushing it out through their state models.

[STEVE HEIDECKER] As law enforcement, fire, EMS, you go into it, they break you up into the room, so they actually have command, they have PIO work, they have dispatch work. So it’s a really well put-together course.

[TONYA HOOVER] We have something that we’re working with here, through a group with science and technology. Very similar, high-end– I don’t want to call it a video game, because that always puts the trainers sideways, but it’s a high-end training module that is video-based, and it focuses– this particular one focuses on active shooter. You can be– you’ve got somebody that can be a shooter, and then you’ve got folks that are actually your emergency responders, police, fire. And you walk a person through. It’s– what comes to mind is, you know, like the video game Call of Duty. Really, you’re part of the scenario. And the city of Sacramento has it, and they’ve used it for their active shooter training. It really helps you hone your awareness for those types of incidents.

[TODD DEVOE] I think we’re talking about the same training.

[TONYA HOOVER] Probably. TICs has got a great program. A lot of what TICs does, because of our partnership with TICs, is they use that as part of their state-approved program. And that means that you can take that class, that course at TICs, and I’m not sure about this active shooter course, but you can take a course at TICs, and if it’s part of their state-approved program, you get NFA credit for that. And many of the NFA courses here are either recognized by colleges and universities, or you get continuing education credit for that. TICs is a very strong partner here at the NFA.

[TODD DEVOE] Yes. And the course that I just took, you had to use your FEMA identification number, so I’m sure that we’re talking about the same program. Programs like that, I think the excitement about it is the fact that we’re integrating full teams into the scenario, and you’re not in that silo any longer.

[TONYA HOOVER] Absolutely. We recognized that a while ago, like I mentioned earlier, since we’re talking specifically about California, a program that was done through the California joint apprenticeship council, or joint apprenticeship program, which Cal (unintelligible 00:29:29.20) fire management and labor came together and developed a lot of training programs using the (unintelligible 00:29:37.28) as a model, centered on active shooter, online. So that folks could get an awareness level and that it transitions into something a little more dynamic.

[TODD DEVOE] One of the things I think it’s exciting about the active shooter training isn’t necessarily because, I mean, the idea of the active shooter is a high-impact but low probability, you know, when it comes to our training. A large fire is probably more probable to respond to, than an active shooter. That being said, I had an interview with Dr. Kelly Victory, she’s a nationally known expert on active shooters, she’s done a lot of trainings. And one of the things she points out is that when you train together in something like this, no matter what you respond to, that the idea of being together, training together, breaking down those silos, is better for all response. Do you guys agree to that?


[TONYA HOOVER] Absolutely.

[STEVE HEIDECKER] Totally, we agree on that.

[TONYA HOOVER] Absolutely. A little focused on active shooter, but any incident, it could be– not that any– traffic accident or any fire is typical but on any type of incident. You know, having strong relationships, so that, as any incident would escalate, you’re prepared for that escalation. Absolutely. You’ve got to be sitting together, you got to be talking to each other, you got to be understanding each other’s worlds.

[STEVE HEIDECKER] And that ought to be integrated within all your plans, also, the different stakeholders that you coordinate with.

[TONYA HOOVER] Absolutely.

[TODD DEVOE] I always say that Orange County, the reason why we do such a good job on the emergency management and response is because we had the nuclear power plant just down the road from us, and we had to, by law, plan, and respond, and train for those. And we’re graded every couple of years by, you know, our government on what our response looks like. And I think that made everything else easy, you know? You get the large fire, we know this. We worked together a while. And I think that nationwide, with the concerns about the active shooter, going back to that, is that now, fire and police are forced to work together on responses. And again, that’s going to make every other response– I don’t know whether to use the word easy, but easier, then it would be if we were meeting for the first time. So Steve, with your programs, do you see a lot of cross-pollination between disciplines?

[STEVE HEIDECKER] Yeah, I sure do, Todd. We have, for a while, in FEMA, used the term whole community, to mean that we’re working with public and private sector, all levels of government. And so, if you come to a course at the Emergency Management Institute, you’re going to see a whole group of different career fields that come. So it’s not just an emergency manager. And I like that, that provides us that cross-pollination that you’re talking about. That certainly allows some networking to occur when you come to an EMI course, or even if we’re doing training out at the jurisdiction, what you’ll find is that the different levels of government come together, public and private sectors come together, it really helps in terms of planning and that.

[TODD DEVOE] Chief, what are some of the challenges that you see facing– based (unintelligible 00:32:47.00) in the near future?

[TONYA HOOVER] Resources. I think when we talk about challenges, resources, both personnel and our resources once we respond. If you think about the country as a whole, a majority of the country is made up of a volunteer workforce, a volunteer emergency services workforce, from the fire services standpoint. The fire service and that volunteer workforce is struggling. They don’t have the recruit and retention numbers that they used to. And when a community is relying on a workforce that’s (unintelligible 00:33:22.03), it’s going to put more pressure on everyone else to step up. The environment is changing.

You mentioned wildfire. Wildfire is not just a West Coast incident; look at what happens in Florida. Look what happened in (unintelligible 00:33:37.20). I mean, if you look at maps showing 20 years out what the mid-Atlantic will look like, we all have the potential. Look at Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas. We all have the potential for a catastrophic wildfire, and we have to make sure our resources are prepared for those types of events. Hurricanes, we’re starting hurricane season again.

[STEVE HEIDECKER] Right in the season, yeah.

[TONYA HOOVER] I thought we were just done. Starting, you know, (unintelligible 00:34:06.11) and hurricane, there are no seasons; it just happens all the time. So you know, challenges are– I think it’s gotten a lot more intense. And we have to find ways of making sure that everybody is appropriately tuned in, prepared. We, as the strategic, the FEMA strategic plan talks about building a culture of preparedness. It’s not just emergency responders, it’s not just emergency managers that are preparing communities, it’s those living in communities that are being prepared.

[TODD DEVOE] I interviewed David (unintelligible 00:34:42.09) from– one of the speakers at the Prep Talks. He talks about the “zero responder.” And I really like that, I like that idea, and I’m starting to use that more often as you’re a responder. I always tell people, as a first responder, we get there second, right? Because 95% of all rescues are done by the first person on scene, which is normally just the bystander. And so, I like the idea of preparing that zero responder. I think this speaks right to what you were just talking about, chief. Steve, I want to ask you the same question. What challenges do you see, coming from the emergency management side?

[STEVE HEIDECKER] Certainly, I see that resources are always going to be a challenge. And so, how we try and attach those challenges, what do we need to do to build national preparedness? Certainly with a set amount of resources, if you’re training folks that aren’t contributing to national preparedness, then that’s probably not the right student. And so, we take on the challenge of resources by trying to fine-tune and finding that right student who attends the right training, so that I can have the right outcome, which means building national preparedness.

And so, just because someone wants to come to an emergency management institute training course, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to be the right student, because it’s all about building preparedness. So I agree very much that it’s resources, the challenge for us, as FEMA’s training arm, is make sure that you’re training the right student so that you achieve that right outcome.

[TODD DEVOE] Just kind of a global question and either one of you guys can grab it. I know that the Red Cross has, for years, has focused on preparedness and preparing communities. And then, obviously, back in the late 80’s, early 90’s, CERT really is taking off, and you see CERT programs around the country that are growing. How do we really impact the typical citizen of the United States into taking preparedness seriously?

[STEVE HEIDECKER] Part of it, I think it’s to continue that community emergency response team training. The EMI runs a CERT, a community emergency response team, train the trainer course as well as a program manager. Because we recognize that individuals, families, and communities are part of building that culture of preparedness. So I think we need to continue the investment along that path. And then recognize that individual and family community preparedness, it doesn’t come for free. The expectation that a family can have there, four, five days of supplies on hand may not be realistic. And so, I’m seeing FEMA make effort towards financial literacy and partnering with other– the department of commerce and other organizations to really focus on financial literacy as a function of preparedness. So I think those are two ways that we contribute.

[TODD DEVOE] You have a good take on that. What can we do better to get communities and individuals prepared? What can we do to really spread that word?

[TONYA HOOVER] Well, it’s like anything, we’re inundated with information constantly. And so, we have to pick and choose what’s important. So those that are relying on the community to be prepared, I think we need to be constantly driving the message home, about capabilities. And we, fire service, talk about community risk reduction and making communities aware of what their risk are, and what does that mean. And so, something as simple, describing the 100-year flood. Where did the 100-year flood start, and where am I in that definition of 100? 100 years may have been 150 years ago.

And so, I think it’s important for us that make the business of preparing people to constantly being in contact with those that we’re relying on to be prepared. We need to continue the messaging. And really, that’s the heavy-lifting. The heavy-lifting is constantly being in contact with our communities, making them aware of their risks and working collaboratively towards community risk reduction.

[TODD DEVOE] Ok, so we’re coming here, I really appreciate your time. Chief, is there anything you would like to tell emergency managers before we move on to the hard question?

[TONYA HOOVER] Oh, absolutely. Every emergency manager belongs here in the NTC. Whether you want to take a course with EMI or you want to take a course at NFA, it needs to start here, at the NTC. So, I tell folks all the time, don’t be afraid to sign up. Enroll early and often. We want to see you here at the NTC.

[TODD DEVOE] Awesome. Steve, same question.

[STEVE HEIDECKER] Yeah, I like that. The– you know, we say all disasters are locally executed, and so, that’s why we’re here for local emergency managers to come and get their training so they can better respond and recover at the local level.

[TODD DEVOE] Alright, and I know this is kind of– people will probably understand, but I’ll ask the question anyway. If people want to get a hold of you guys to learn more about your programs, how can they find you?

[STEVE HEIDECKER] I’d say Chief Hoover, and I are pretty active on LinkedIn. So if you’re trying to reach out to Steve Heidecker, I recommend LinkedIn for it.

[TONYA HOOVER] Absolutely. LinkedIn, I have a Twitter account that’s super NFA.

[STEVE HEIDECKER] I didn’t know.

[TONYA HOOVER] Yeah! I probably use my Twitter more than my Facebook, you know, I see pictures of my daughter’s dog. But also, don’t ever hesitate to email us directly. It’s pretty simple, it’s first dot last name at FEMA.dhs.gov. So reach out.

[TODD DEVOE] Alright, here is the toughest question of the day, I’ll start with the Chief. What book or books do you recommend to people that are involved in emergency management and emergency response?

[TONYA HOOVER] Well, actually, right now, I am reading/listening, because I spend a lot of time in the car, driving. So I bought hard copy, and I’m listening to a book called “The Servant,” and it’s a simple story about the true essence of leadership. And it’s by James Hunter. It is a story about leadership, and I think it doesn’t matter if you’re in the fire side of emergency, EMS, or you’re an emergency manager, it’s a good book about leadership and bringing folks to– how do you bring folks together and move things forward.

[TODD DEVOE] The Servant, by James Hunter, awesome. Steve, you can take that one.

[STEVE HEIDECKER] Well, I have to say, this is my favorite question, because I heard you asked Administrator Long, and he said Raven Rock. You asked Dr. (unintelligible 00:41:27.23), and he said, “Unthinkable,” by Amanda Ripley. And based on those two people, Todd, EMI has put together a professional reading list, so we thank you for that idea. We expect that to come out in the next couple of months. But the book that I highly recommend really is by General Stanley McChrystal, and I think that’s one, Todd, that you’ve already read, it’s “Team of Teams.”

The thing I like about that book is he recognizes, ok, we have this typical military command strategy. But to be effective in today’s environment, you know, whether it’s in Iraq, or to bring it home to responding and recovering to a disaster, you need to operate differently, you need to operate so that you have more efficiency, and you do that by what he called “shared consciousness” and empowered execution. So when you talk about the emergency manager having to coordinate with everyone, I think Team of Teams by General Stanley McChrystal will help someone as they’re in that field.

[TODD DEVOE] Yes, that’s an excellent book, by the way.


[TODD DEVOE] Well, Steve and Chief, thank you guys so much for your time today. And I really would love to have you guys on again sometime. And again, is there anything else you guys would like to say before I let you go?

[TONYA HOOVER] I do, I have one last thing, because we just came off of Memorial Day, and Steve mentioned 20 years in the military, I want to thank Steve for his service. Not just then, but his continued service here at FEMA, and to everyone past, present, and future that is serving our country, thank you.

[STEVE HEIDECKER] Thanks, that’s very nice. Todd, I would say that local emergency managers should also know that EMI and the National Fire Academy, we’re not the only source of FEMA training. And so, we’ve already talked about TICS, they’re part of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium, and then there’s the Center for Domestic Preparedness, down in (unintelligible 00:43:21.03) Alabama. So, (unintelligible 00:43:22.24) a bit of training through those training organizations. So, all about achieving the right outcomes.

[TONYA HOOVER] You want to be here.

[TODD DEVOE] That’s for sure. Well guys, thank you so much for your time.

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