Once candidates complete the classroom training, they join Fennessy’s team during a real incident to acquire hands-on training and experience. Last year, the team worked the Texas wildfires and brought with it individuals who shadowed experienced team members. Although it’s called “shadowing,” there are hands-on activities, such as giving briefings to large groups. The hands-on experience during a real incident helps individuals apply what they’ve learned in the classroom.
“The light goes on and they say, ‘Oh, the ICS training,’” Fennessy said. But those field mentorship assignments, as they’re called, are expensive (salaries and overtime are paid through grant funding), and it’s difficult to find a number of people available at the same time. Fennessy said he called 40 to 50 people on his team to respond to the Texas wildfires, but only 12 could go.
At some point, he said, there’s going to be a very large incident in Southern California — whether an earthquake, tsunami or wildfire — and they’ll have to rally the entire group to support the region. “And the locals are going to have to take care of themselves, so I think you’ll see more of these teams develop throughout the state.”
Byrne said he hopes the All-Hazards Type 3 teams continue to gain momentum nationally. “We’re at a tipping point,” he said. “The planets are lined up, there’s been a lot of effort, we have the association. We’re at that point where it will become part of the way we talk about emergency management. It will be foundational in every community.”
He also desires expansion to include the whole community. “I hope to see the use of these types of structures go beyond just government organizations — that [nongovernmental organizations] start to reflect the creation of this structure and that private-sector organizations follow suit, because it’s that important.”
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