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Episode 13 #5 What joint training have you done and what is planned? - "10 Questions from the Mayor" Series
10 Questions for the Mayor to ask the Police and Fire Chief Series
Question 5: "What joint training have you done and what is planned?"
Welcome back to our podcast series. This is the next installment. We are currently on a mini-series here, talking about 10 questions that the Mayor or City Manager should be asking their police chief and fire chief together. Today, we are going to be talking about question number 5.
Chiefs, tell me what joint training you've done and what is planned? My name is Bill Godfrey, one of the instructors with C3 and retired fire chief. Have with me today, Adam Pendley, assistant chief with Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. Also, one of the instructors with C3. Welcome, Adam.
And we have with us, Joe Ferrara, also retired fire chief, like myself. And one of the instructors with C3. Thanks, Joe, for coming in.
So, as we get ready to talk about this, one of the things that I often find myself having to stop and backup and make sure everybody is on the same page, is that there is a big difference between training and exercises. And that so often gets lost. I see people, very frequently, spin up these large exercises, these large, full scale exercises, calling them training. And that is really a very, very difficult venue and environment in which people can train or learn. Full scale exercises are more for testing or validating whether or not your training is actually worked.
So we have split this into 2 different questions. And our focus here is on the training that would build you to, ultimately, exercises to full scale. So here, we are talking about joint training. Adam, what should the mayor want to hear when asks the police chief, the fire chief, the sheriff, what joint training have you done and what's planned?
I think what you're going to want to hear is that there's opportunities that when one agency or the other establishes training for those that might be involved in the management of an incident, that everyone is invited. Across disciplines, but also across different jurisdictions and a different management levels within your agency. And what I mean that is, is that police agencies have training that specific to their line level officers. When you have firearms training or tactical training or defensive tactics training, that is going to be very law enforcement centric.
The same thing with the fire/EMS side. If you have training that's operational in nature, it's going to be very unique to that discipline. But, when you start talking about the type of training that's necessary to manage events, whether its even as simple as the Incident Command ICS300 type classes or Active Shooter Incident Management, those classes should not be closed to one agency. Those classes should be, you should invite all of those that are going to be involved because when the day of the incident comes, those are the same people that are going to be coming to assist. So training is really that first opportunity to bring everyone into the room, have the same curriculum, work through problems, and meet each other. That training is a great opportunity to really meet each other.
So the answer should be, that we have opportunities to schedule, that when we offer a training, we send it out as a training announcement to everyone that is in that jurisdiction or in that region, so that we can all train on the same sheet of music, literally.
Yes, Adam, I certainly agree with that, that when an agency has a training, that it needs to go out across the disciplines but also within the agency. It's great to say, okay everybody needs to get ICS300 or everybody's got to have this or we're going to have this kind of training. But has management done that as well and is management, even within the organization, included all aspects into that training? So, as an example, from the fire chief on down, and has the fire chief reached across agencies within his city or within the county, if we have a large scale event, if we have a large scale disaster, public works is going to need to be trained, engineering departments need to be trained. Post disaster events
Sometimes, being from Florida, we deal with hurricanes so we have a lot of experience training across disciplines but are we really sure that every aspect, I can remember the days EOC exercises and the training leading up to them, law enforcement agency would send somebody on the training day. Fire department would have people there, public works would have people there. But then when we would have the exercise, post training, the same people weren't there. Are we ensuring, as leaders, that everybody across the board is trained on our expectations? And specifically, an active shooter event, there are many opportunities so, at the line level, why can't Company A or Fire Station A, the company officer has a training drill that night, and maybe it is on Rescue Task Forces. Call the deputies or officers on that zone, and say, hey guys come on over. That is joint training on what we are going to be responding to.
And it doesn't have to be about Rescue Task Forces, it could be, maybe they invite law enforcement over to the fire station that day and say, hey we want some training on domestics and how we're going to approach that. Or the role we are going to have as fire fighters and medics on a crime scene. There's a big gap there. How many times did we stumble over something and screw up a crime scene when we should have had some company level training on that. So yeah, joint training, across the board.
I think you really hit the nail on the head. One of my frustrations, like the one that you just identified, you have some people show up to the training, and then when you go to do the exercise, the people who show up are completely different and haven't had the training, which is very frustrating. If its worth doing, you need to do it for everybody.
But one of my other frustrations is, this over reliance on classroom training on presentations, lecturing, even in some cases, e-learning, without getting into the hands-on to reinforce it. Lecture, didactic material, even e-learning, can provide a great foundation for background, but you need to reinforce that and bring that home with some hands-on. And the hands-on needs to build in complexity. I am not saying it's easy. Its time consuming, it's difficult to schedule, it can be expensive, sometimes it can just be hard to figure out how to train it safely with the numbers that you've got. But there are ways to do it. Somewhere, somebody has already cracked the code on how to get that done. You just kind of have to be committed to it.
Adam, what are some of the creative things that you've seen done, in terms of how to take it from the classroom, from e-learning, from lecture and provide some of that, like Joe saying, some of that hands-on. Whether its formally organized or informally organized. You got some examples?
Well, actually, and he hit on a couple of the examples. From a law enforcement perspective, as a Watch Commander, I would often have an offsite roll call at a school or a mall or some business, where you do a walk through and you don't set it up as an exercise, you're not pulling guns out. But you're walking through and game planning how we would work through the problems that this location offers. And the same thing, we would call our local fire station, that has that territory, and have them meet us there for that roll call and do a walk through and just talk to each other. And discover that, hey on the back here they have this door barred and we don't have a key to it. How would we get past that problem? So again, just in your daily activity, you can incorporate training and planning and preparedness into actionable things that you can do on a daily basis.
And then, like Joe mentioned as well, not only do you want to do that at the line level, but your management needs to get involved as well. As a City Manager, you would want to know that your chiefs of your departments know that there are outside resources available. The National Preparedness Domestic, The National Domestic Preparedness Consortium, that has multiple training officers over, training offerings over 6 different types of disciplines across the country that are free to send first responders to and that we don't have to reinvent the wheel. We can use a great deal of resources that are already offered by FEMA and by the training consortiums that are out there that focus on specific needs that we have in our communities.
I think that's a great answer. Joe, how about you. Any creative things that jump into your mind that you think of managing, like the fire department has some interesting shift challenges with the 1 on, 3 day off schedule for most. What are a couple of the creative things that you stick out in your mind?
Well, and you mentioned the shift challenges. There is also challenges with how training is paid for. We always hate to get on that topic but there is a financial aspect to it. Are we doing it on duty? And if we are doing it on duty, what are we doing about service coverage? So those are some challenges that chiefs need to deal with. And if it’s not on duty, there's overtime issues and all those things that come in to play about whether training is paid for, whether it’s' voluntary, whether its mandatory. Beyond that, it’s important for chiefs to remember to include other disciplines, besides just fire and law enforcement. Or just local law enforcement. I would think you want to reach out to your state police partners. Every response zone have state police partners there. So are they working and training with them. What about your health department? Are you pulling your health department and those assets in, your hospitals? So there are many other partners to think about when we talk about what are the impacts on these joint events.
And I want to jump in there, Joe, because you mentioned a couple things that are really important that hit that help with the funding issue. We've seen around the country and we've talked with some of the others that help instruct this course, that you have your private sector, often times, is very eager to, to offer space or money or support for your training activities because they get to be recognized as helping in the community, that if they help us provide some space or funding for some active shooter training that crosses all the disciplines and the private sector, that they show that they are supporting the community as well. I would say, one of the way, one of the creative ways to get past the challenges of funding, is remember that you have your private sector partners that are willing to step in and help and offer money and offer space and resources.
I think that's a great example. And it’s funny, as we sit here recording this podcast, we're in Indiana at Valparaiso University, who is hosting one of our ASIM classes and provided just this beautiful ballroom and space, and everything that we needed, in terms of facilities and access. I think that's great thing. You know what, I think the other thing that needs to be mentioned is, the fire chief, the police chief, the sheriff shouldn't be afraid to go to the county manager, the city manager, and the mayor and say, "hey can you help us with some corporate partners? We want to be able to do this. We need these kinds of facilities to train in. Can you help make some introductions and some connections?"
To me, I think it really does, for the city manager and the mayor, I think it comes down to this simple, when you ask the question of your police and fire chief, how does each of your disciplines, I'm sorry, what joint training have you done and what is planned, that they look each other and they're able to talk about it and talk about what they're doing together. That they're not looking at you with a dumb look. If they're, if they've got some answers, then you're probably on your way. I hate to make it sound that simple, but in a way it kind of is. It gives you a good barometer of whether they're talking and working together well.
I think that's a good place to wrap this one up. Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming in on this one. Everyone please join us for our next in this mini-series, where we are going to talk about a very similar question, what joint exercises have you done and what's planned?