Ep 48: Interview with TEEX's Jesse Watkins

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Episode 48: Interview with TEEX's Jesse Watkins

On this week's podcast we have our sponsor of the Active Shooter Incident Management Advanced and Intermediate courses, TEEX's Jesse Watkins. In this episode we talk about the courses and training available to the first responder community.

Bill Godfrey:

Welcome to the Active Shooter Incident Management podcast. My name is Bill Godfrey, your podcast host. We have a special guest with us today. Today, we have Jesse Watkins, the director of operations for NERRTC. That's the National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center over at TEEX out in Texas. Jesse, thanks for joining us today.

Jesse Watkins:

Oh, it's my pleasure Bill. Thank you for having me.

Bill Godfrey:

So obviously NERRTC and TEEX are the sponsors of the Active Shooter Incident Management advanced and intermediate courses that we developed that is DHS funded. And people who've heard me tell this story before, it's a little convoluted, the money flow, but it DHS to NERRTC to or, DHS to TEEX NERRTC, then over to ALERRT and then over to us to go out and do the classes. But Jesse, it's actually a little more complicated than that, isn't it? Tell everybody a little bit about how the structure works and how the pieces fit together.

Jesse Watkins:

It is a little bit more complicated than that. For those of you that don't know a whole lot about who TEEX is or who NERRTC is, TEEX is an agency within the state of Texas or for the state of Texas, and it's within the Texas A and M University System, which is comprised of 11 universities and now eight state agencies. And our primary mission is an extension. And within that extension, training, and in some cases, exercise. Back in 1998, as a result of the Oklahoma City bombing, we solicited Congress as a part of an organization called the NDPC, National Domestic Preparedness Consortium, for funding to go out and do online security training around the country. At the time that funding came on to DOJ and then after 9-11, it moved under Homeland Security with FEMA being the oversight organization, it was the checks and balances for what we do and how we spend the money that being said, NERRTC proper, National Emergency Response Recovery Training center, has 73 courses that we've developed under our funding to go out and train first responders, elected officials, a whole host of organizations.

But you know, our primary mission is incident management, cyber security, critical infrastructure, and several other areas. I won't go into all of them, but a lot of resources, put it that way, that we pour towards going out and doing training at no cost to participants or to the jurisdictions that's requesting it. As a result of that, a few years back, we started looking at the active shooter situation that was going on in the country. Obviously, Bill, you and I had conversations at the time. Steve, in a different capacity, and I had conversations at the time and agreed that we would like to be able to fund doing some active shooter training around the country. And you obviously had the course resources in terms of going out with the materials, going and doing the deliveries. We had some funding that we could put behind that, but it's under our DHS funding.

And what was born out of that is this relationship where we have now in which we subcontract to ALERRT and then ALERRT in turns, subcontracts to you. That being said, the relationship works. It is a little cumbersome. You know, when you stop thinking about how many different organizations it's taken to get this done, but we have figured out a way to make that effective and efficient over the years. And I'm happy about the relationship. That being said, the mission is the thing that's the most important piece to me. Going out and observing you all do this training obviously brings me a lot of satisfaction and that satisfaction is in knowing that we are training that first response community to be better and to react and respond better to active shooter situations and also to extrapolate out of that, using what they use in the classroom during this training and other scenarios as well.

I think it makes them more effective as a operational unit by the time they're done with it. So, I love that aspect of it. That's, that's really the driver for me. But when you stop and think about NERRTC or I can explain a little bit about NERRTC, most of the training that we do, we do in-house meaning we have SMEs and full-time staff that are devoted to doing nothing but delivery of those courses that I mentioned before.

So this relationship that we have with alert and with you is, it's not unique because we do have one other subcontractor that we work with that has a similar relationship, but it is out of the ordinary for what we typically do. We have roughly 80 full-time staff and we're around 300 adjunct instructors SMEs from around the country that go out and do our trainings. But at the end of the day, the way that you all go in and do your training and conduct yourselves is very much in line with how we do business here. So, is the relationship a little bit unique? Yes, it is, but it does fit well within what we do and how we do it.

When I look at a bigger picture in terms of our relationship with National Domestic Preparedness Consortium, as I mentioned before, we were one of the founding members back in 1998. The consortium itself is now seven members strong. It started with four, now it's at seven. If you're interested in more information on each and every one of those organizations, feel free to reach out to Bill, or you can reach out to me. He has my contact information and I can, I can provide you more detail. I won't bore you with going through all the locations. That being said, those seven organizations have roughly $162 million a year that they pour into training. Just like I mentioned before with NERRTC. What that equates to over the last 20 years is roughly 3.5 million participants trained across the country, across the U.S and the U.S. Territories. So we are very impactful with what we do and how we do it. And subsequently every year that we solicit Congress for funding, we have gotten it. So I'm very happy about that relationship that we have with the NDPC and also the relationship we have with our federal sponsors.

Bill Godfrey:

Jesse, thank you for that. That's not only some very gracious words, but really a great overview of what is, quite honestly can seem very overwhelming with the number of agencies and the number of groups that are doing this, but, seven principal partners in the NDPC and $162 million. That is an awful lot of training opportunities for first responders. And, as you said, and I want to kind of highlight this, there's no cost to the responders to take these classes, right?

Jesse Watkins:

That's correct.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah. And, the way I've always said this, and I think this is correct, but tell me if there's, if I'm missing something here, these courses are available in kind of two different buckets, either the direct delivery where you bring the course to the participants, to their agency, to their hometown or a residential delivery, where they travel into a specific location to take the course, but their travel costs are reimbursed by you guys or the NDPC for their expenses, travel food, lodging, all that kind of stuff. Is that a fair way to say it?

Jesse Watkins:

Yeah, that's a fair way to say it. I can, just using our 314 course Enhanced Incident Management/Unified Command, that's the only resident course we have here at TEEX. It is a monster of a course, meaning we really put the participants through their paces for three and a half days. But using that as an example, we purchased the airline tickets for the participants to fly here. We arrange for the ground transportation to get them from the airport to College Station. We cover their lodging while they're here, meaning we paid for it. The thing that the participant pays for out of pocket at the time are their meals. However, we do reimburse those meals after the training is over. There's a worksheet that gets filled out. And then we ended up cutting the participant a check whenever we're done. It really is of no cost to the participant or their jurisdiction whenever they're here, other than their time.

Now, when you get into mobile delivery, what we do is we come to your location and do the training, similar to what we do with the ASIM course. And obviously the participants are already there so we're not housing anyone, but we are paying for the instructors to get there, all the materials to get there. We publish all the course materials for the students and hand those out. So all we ask for from the jurisdiction is a host venue that can accommodate the students and accommodate them safely and effectively. And that's it pretty much, there might be some PA things or some communication things but there's really no cost to the organization aside from those.

Bill Godfrey:

It's such a terrific program. And I do want to make sure before I kind of move us on to some other topical areas. If someone's listening, has not heard of the NDPC or doesn't know what classes are offered or how to sign up for them, Jesse, what's your guidance to them on the best way to kind of get the lay of the land on what's available and how to request those courses or request to attend those courses?

Jesse Watkins:

Well, the first website I'll give you is simple. It is www.ndpc.us. If you go to that website, it's going to lay out who all seven members are. It's going to give you information on courses, new courses, retired courses, what our course catalogs are, all the resources that we have available that you can take advantage of. The second website that I will give you is firstrespondertraining.gov. That is a federal website but when you go to that website and you click on the course catalog, it will give you user-friendly access to every federally funded course that you can imagine, to include all the NDPC courses, those from partners, such as EMI. There's just a whole host of information on there, and it's pretty interactive. You can do keyword searches. So if you went in and put in active shooter, I always say the active shooter two and three-day versions will both come up whenever you do that. Those are the two best resources I could give.

Bill Godfrey:

So ndpc.us, and firstrespondertraining.gov and, and Jesse, if I'm a line cop, a line firefighter, line paramedic, and I see some courses that I'm interested in, what's my path forward to try to get, I mean, is it, should I reach out to my local emergency manager? How do I get into the channel?

Jesse Watkins:

Well, in terms of that, there's multiple scenarios. So if it is say a residential course, like we talked about before, and you know, for our 314 course, we don't take jurisdictions. We take people from jurisdictions, so one or two from jurisdictions all over the country that come in and make up the class. If you have an individual that's interested in a course like that, they can go on and follow the contact information that's on either of those sites for this specific course. And then somebody will reach out to them. That being said, not everybody qualifies. If it comes to the 314, there are some prerequisites and requirements for positions to be able to do it. And that's similar to other residential courses as well, but it doesn't, they don't just take anyone. It has to be relevant to your position.

And a lot of times you have to have certain amount of experience. Now, if you're a jurisdiction or an individual from a jurisdiction that is wanting to host a course, there's contact information on there for doing that meaning to start the process. But my best advice is to go through whoever your training supervisor is for your organization, tell them you're interested in hosting a course, and then they can get the ball rolling from there. Because if the host, of course, obviously it's going to be more than just the one person that's wanting to go. So that training supervisor can typically coordinate that. And if you're in a control state, and I won't get too much into that, but in those states, the state training point of contact has to sign off on those states. And usually you're training supervisor within your organization is going to know who that is and what that process is.

Bill Godfrey:

Jesse, I think that's great advice and great things to point out, especially getting into the getting access to the training supervisor. And in some cases your immediate training supervisor might not know about the NDPS or might not know about these courses. So, share the websites with them and share this because it's great training. Jesse, I want to comment the course you're talking about that you guys do residential there, that's 314 course, that's a phenomenal course. It is a big animal, but talk about an impactful course that will give you a level of training and experience you're not going to get anywhere else short of a real event. And it's a great course.

Jesse Watkins:

It really is. I mean, or you could even start looking at national qualification system and PTB, Position Task Books, and the requirements that are in those. And when it comes to incident management or IMT, a lot of the experience requirements that you find in those PTBs can actually be obtained through participation in this course. So, it really is a very good course and very beneficial course to the participants that go through it. We get a lot of great feedback off of it. And it does a great job of preparing you for a real world event.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah, absolutely. You know, the other thing, before we kind of move on from this topic, I also want to mention, you talked about the process of making the host requests for the mobile delivery or for the direct delivery courses. And in our case for the active shooter incident management, both the advanced and the intermediate, that process starts with submitting a request through the ALERRT website, which sometimes kind of throws people for a loop a little bit. They're like, wait a minute, I'm looking for the NDPC course, why do I need to do the ALERRT thing?

But I think your explanation about how the organizations are all working together, kind of touches on that. So for our course, it starts by requesting, filing a request or the alert a website, or that you want to host the class and then it goes into the queue and unfortunately there's much more need and demand than there really is capacity to do it. I mean, there's only so much money to go around and there's obviously a lot of need, but we work through the queue as best we can. Jesse, any comments you want to offer about that?

Jesse Watkins:

Yeah, absolutely. Well, I guess if I'm just speaking, frankly, it does get frustrating because I know the demand is greater than our financial resources will allow us to address of that being said.

We've done a pretty good job of triaging, prioritizing and taking care of the customers whenever they come through. The request process is a little wonky, for lack of better word. That being said it is effective, put it that way, so once an organization gets their requests into the queue with alert and it makes it up here, there's a couple of review steps that take place. One, one of my staff members goes through and takes a look at it. And the second as I look at it as well for everybody's benefit. None of them are a surprise to me because you and I communicate so much on where you're going, what you're doing, what the needs are, who has priority, but it does go through all that process. But once we got it in the queue, it is pretty easy to track, I guess, what our progress is progressing the need...

Bill Godfrey:

I think that's fair. I mean, I agree with you. I think we do, given the parameters that we've got, I think we do a pretty good job of trying to get them around, moving around to different parts of the country, to different regions, different areas, different states, coordinating what the TPOC coordinating with the site hosts. It is a little bit of a process because this class, kind of like your 314 class, this is a big class, it's three days on the ground with five or six instructors, a trailer full of equipment. I mean, we've got a 30 foot trailer that hauls the gear around. Usually it takes the instructors five, six hours to set up the day before to get everything going. So it's not a small lift, there's a lot of money out, and you're laughing.

There's a lot of planning that has to go into it. And, there's a fair amount of work on the host to be able to do this. And some, some folks, when they submit the request, they don't necessarily understand all the specifics. And when we reach out, they're like, oh, well I need to partner with a couple of different agencies and we try to, you know, facilitate all that. But we, I think we've got a pretty good process in place now for tracking those requests, not losing track of them, kind of keeping an eye on where those requests are coming in across the country, and then trying to hit regional spaces. We can't do every single request, but sometimes when we get a cluster of four or five in one area, we can pick one and just reach out to those each of those hosts and say, okay, look, we're only going to get one for your region. This is it. So you guys all collaborate on sharing seats and that I think it works pretty well.

Jesse Watkins:

I think it works great to be perfectly honest with you. And I mean, just for the listeners benefit, I talked about 314 course. It is a large course and if you've ever been to it, you know what all goes into it. I mean, it takes dedicated infrastructure to make it work.

That being said, you've taken the equivalent of that course and put it in the trailer and haul it around the country is essentially what you've done with the ASIM course. So it is a marvel, that's the reason I chuckled it is a marvelous thing whenever you show up, there's a lot of hardware that goes into making this class as realistic as possible for students. And I think the folks that have gone through it realize that, realize the benefits they get out of each and every component of that class when they're going through, whether it be the didactic piece or, you know, going through the simulation piece at their station, but it's amazing to see and it's definitely amazing to participate in. So I encourage anyone out there that thinks that their jurisdiction can benefit from this, and I know there's many, to reach out as quickly as possible and get their name in the queue so that way they can get serviced as soon as they can.

Bill Godfrey:

Absolutely. Absolutely. All right. So let's, let's shift gears a little bit, Jesse, obviously, COVID was a shock to everyone and a shock to the system if you will, on the impact it had for training, we went through a period where we had to do a shutdown face-to-face training and do some adjustments, but given where we are now, and this is, we're recording this in September of 2021, what do you see on the horizon now? What are the issues today? What are the short-term issues over the next three to six months? And what do you think the implications are for us longterm on trying to train everybody?

Jesse Watkins:

You know, just speaking for me personally, I'm cautiously optimistic about where we are and where we're going. We've seen a steady increase since the restrictions were removed off of our face-to-face training. We've seen a steady increase in demand month to month, this month being a very good month. And we will do about ninety deliveries by the end of the month of our courses. Next month will be about the same. That being said, put in perspective, our normal, a normal month of deliveries for us is about 120 face-to-face. So we're not quite back to pre COVID numbers. I don't know when we will get to pre COVID numbers, so that's the cautiously optimistic part. I'm happy that we are able to go out and facilitate face to face training again. We're still doing so very cautiously. We are still doing so minding whatever the local restrictions are for conducting a class, making sure that we're putting all the safety procedures that we can in place.

And I think we're going to be doing that for a good while. Now. I don't, I don't see that going away within the next month or two. So I think we're going to be operating under this COVID cloud at least for the next six, eight, maybe next year. That being said, looking on the positive side of things, we are able to go out and do training. Before we, we had to shift gears, we converted a bunch of courses to virtual. You know what that was like, you put a lot of resources into converting the ASIM course into a two day virtual version, but just speaking from my own opinion, it was an effective course, but it's not nearly as effective as face-to-face version where students are getting hands-on practical experience with the exercises. So what I'm hoping is we can continue this trend of doing face-to-face and doing it safely without incident, and hopefully get back to pre-COVID numbers in the near future.

Bill Godfrey:

You and I, of course, see that on the same way. We both, there's huge value in face-to-face. And there's so many subtleties that are very, very difficult to replicate in a remote or virtual environment. And as you mentioned, Jesse, I mean, we found ourselves in a position of, okay, we're teaching this active shooter incident management class, which has a tremendous amount of hands-on components. We're running live scenarios from, dispatch to last patient transported off the scene with all these different components. How the heck are we going to do that remotely, because you're not going to get that done with Zoom or, or Microsoft Teams. And we ended up building our own platform to be able to enable us to do that. And I really think it was, really was remarkable.

And I'm so proud of what our team here accomplished in pulling that off and the instructors and shifting gears and being able to do that there, is it the same as the face-to-face? No, it's not, it's not, it's a different experience, but I think we're still able to, in our particular case, we're still able to hit those, those training objectives and those learning objectives with a relative high fidelity, but it didn't come easy. It took a lot of work by the instructors. It took a lot of work by the programmers and, ironically, I don't know, Jesse, what would you say the first three or four months that we were doing that, we were still trying to tweak it and get everything figured out, and about the time we got it just right, we were able to go back to face-to-face training?

Jesse Watkins:

That's right. You know, that being said, I know you spent time tweaking it, but the course it was very effective once it hit the market. So when you have it out there, I know that there were a lot of systems I went through that were very appreciative of being able to have an opportunity, one to not only receive training at all, but definitely to receive active shooter training because that's the problem. We had a massive list of organizations that were in the queue for ASIM training. And it may, it could have been years down the road before they got, being able to get it in front of those organizations and on effect training to as many participants, as we did was, was very beneficial for them. And it was beneficial to us as well. You know, it keeps traction and helped us keep engaged throughout the process and also helped us develop some skill sets on things that we didn't have prior to all this happening.

And now we do have them and we will maintain them to a degree because I think there will be in demand even after COVID is over for organizations to receive virtual training. You can look at some states and jurisdictions that just cannot fill enough people for a face-to-face class, but yeah, you can put on a virtual delivery of a course and they can get folks in it. And then some other jurisdictions that just have ones and twos can get folks in it. And next thing you know, you've got a full class and you're affecting training, affecting training to people that otherwise would not get it there, and underserved areas of the country. So I feel good about that as well.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah. And, we actually did that as you mentioned, that the queue being pretty backed up, we did identify a number of the, what I'll call the smaller agencies that it's suggested that it requested a host and some rural ones that would have had a real challenge hosting and filling the class in person face-to-face, but we were able to take them and then kind of mix and match without regard to geography and have people from all over the country in the class and kind of keep those classes full and keep them moving and it was pretty interesting to see.

I have this one, just a memory that makes me laugh every time we were doing, we had finished a scenario and we were doing the hotwash after the scenario and the gentleman that was playing the role of the medical triage just could not get over that he was able to, during the scenario, stand right next to the tactical officer and be able to communicate just verbally face to face and hear what was going on and kind of coordinate that. And he just, it kept freaking him out and blowing his mind that he was on the east coast and the police officer that was playing the role of tactical was actually out in either Portland or Seattle, somewhere up in the Northwest, you know, three times zones away. And he's like, it's like the guy standing right next to me, except he's not he's...it was one of those moments that was just a little surreal and kind of funny.

Jesse Watkins:

Right. Well, and there's side benefits to all these courses, right. And the side benefits of the relationships that get built in the classroom, and those two individuals might not normally work together, but they have shared, they can share experiences that, each of them can take back. So that, that ability to social network, while you're in the class is hugely beneficial. It's not something that we list in one of the training materials or any of those things, but our participants know it and they usually get a lot of takeaways from that as well. So, I appreciate his story in terms of being able to stand next to someone. I mean, we have similar experience, right, where I'm sitting, I think at my house at the time and you're doing the system up and demoing it for us and all of a sudden I'm standing and looking at Steve and looking at you within the realm of the software. And so it does make you kind of feel like you're present with the individuals that you're training with.

Bill Godfrey:

Yeah. And you know, the other thing that was a reality for me is in the face-to-face class, obviously we're pulling people that are attending from within that region or local area and when we started doing the class remotely through NCIER Campus, we ended up with people all over the country in a class. And one of the comments that came out of that regularly from the participants is how much they appreciated hearing how another law enforcement agency on the other side of the country or another fire department, different ideas, different policies, different ways of approaching it, different issues that they'd had, those kinds of things and it really led to some very interesting discussions and learning opportunities in the class that I don't really know would have come up had we not put people that were so geographically distributed into the same class, so it was kind of fascinating.

Jesse Watkins:

Right. And it really is. I can use the example, there was a period, and I think Steve was involved in this as well, where we were kind of traveling the country on a limited basis meeting with different EOCs, emergency operation centers, because we were talking about standardizing operation for them in emergency operation center. And the thing that you come to realize after you go to all these different places, there's nothing standard about how EOCs operate. You know, they each have ways how they do things based off of what their threats and their hazards are, how their response structure is set up. And so identifying that difference between those centers was critical to making the decision that maybe standardization's not the best thing.

And I think you can say that about any response organization. You can have a response organization three counties away, they may do things different than the one that you're in. And there might be some takeaways from each of those places that are beneficial to the other, where they can say, okay, we haven't thought about that, or that's not how we do it, maybe we want to do with that. So there's a lot of things that come out of those classroom relationships that you build that can be taken back and really make the organizations that individual works for better.

Bill Godfrey:

I completely agree with you. You mentioned a few minutes ago that the remote learning, the virtual learning is probably a model that's going to stay with us even post COVID. And I agree with you. I think that that's absolutely true. My trepidation over that is that e-learning, distance learning, remote learning was mediocre, just in a general sense from my, again, as you, as you said, from my personal opinion, was mediocre at best before COVID, and then during COVID, there was such a rush to convert to remote and distance learning that I feel like a lot of shortcuts and compromises were made, to get to the end goal. And I'm concerned that there's folks that go, Hey, look, this work, this work we don't need to do. We don't need to do X, Y, Z anymore.

We can do this remote stuff and we can pump up the numbers and get there, but I'm looking at it and concerned about the quality. I guess my question to you would be two parts. One, do you share that? Do you see it a little differently? Or do you see it about the same way? And, then the second part of that more practical is in your mind, you've seen a tremendous amount of training, all kinds of different classes, instructors all over the country, in your mind, what are the biggest gaps that we're not, that we need to hit with remote or virtual learning that, that we're not hitting yet?

Jesse Watkins:

Oh, okay. Those are two great questions. So, first off, when you talk about the possibility of growing out of traditional face-to-face or not having as much traditional face-to-face as we've had in the past because of some of the developments that happened with virtual deliveries, I can't speak for every organization in the country. I can speak for the NDPC and what our directive has been from our sponsor at FEMA and that is definitely not the case. The case with our sponsor is, couldn't wait to get back to face to face, glad that we are back to face-to-face. Yeah, keep the virtual delivery capability because it is something we've developed and we don't want to just trash it, keep it because we might need it, but get back to doing what we do best.

When you start talking about some of the areas out there for conducting virtual delivery, I think there's probably a number of areas that we didn't dive off into. We had limited resources for converting courses. A lot of our courses were not structured to be converted to virtual, especially those with a lot of exercise component. Once you take those out, then the course loses its meaning, focus. That's why we didn't convert all. I do think there's some areas where we can continue to make some progress. You started getting into things like, just speaking off the cuff, like THIRA, they they've revised our process.

And we were a big partner in that with our federal partners on putting together the courses to teach that. We've got a web based course that is going along with that, teaches that. And we also have a face-to-face that teaches that. That's a course that you can also do a virtual delivery with and it still be very effective down the road. Our EOC course was one that I had a lot of trepidation over converting to virtual, but we did. And that has been effective to a lot of folks. And I think we can probably continue that. It is not quite as intensive as you would get in face-to-face version, but there are still a lot of takeaways that come from that, where we are finding jurisdictions are getting a lot of benefit out of it. I was still requesting testing on a couple. One of the biggest challenges though that most people don't understand is from an organizational standpoint, you have to be set up well to deliver virtual courses.

And it's not just what platform am I going to use for two instructors to stand in front of the screen? You know, it's how you deliver the content that students, how can you make the course materials successful for the students electronically and ahead of the class? How do you go about doing your pre and post tests and level one evaluations electronically, which is, these are all things that we didn't do prior to COVID.

So we're not only develop the capability to do, but we'll continue to push forward even we're doing face-to-face classes in the future. So there's a lot of things that go on, a lot of those behind the scenes to try to be effective with virtual deliveries. And I still think we have a lot of work to do in terms of our systems that we have in place to accommodate that. And I know as an agency, we have put that as a priority, to look at that and address that over the next year. It was, how do we get better at doing this and how do we get better and make it easier for the student to have access to and complete our courses in a virtual environment.

Bill Godfrey:

I think that makes a tremendous amount of sense. And I'm thrilled to hear that there's still a significant commitment to face-to-face training moving forward. And I think there is value in remote training and virtual training and continuing to develop those capabilities. I just, I think it's important for people to make sure, as they move forward, like you mentioned with the 314 class, it's a very intensive, very hands-on and in many ways you face the same issues with that class that we did with trying to convert ASIM over, which is why I wanted that campus capability so that you could talk to somebody just by walking up to them and you can step into a breakout room, you can leave one breakout room and go to a different breakout room and it's not confusing. There's not a big interface. There's not a million people talking over each other. It kind of feels like you're in a training center and you're moving from the main auditorium to these different breakout rooms and working through the exercises.

But I worry a little bit about being in the minority on that. To me, I can remember, and I want to date myself, but at 20 years ago, working on some e-learning, which was pretty doggone new at the time and trying to figure out what worked and what didn't work. And we had these great dreams for it, but achieving that turned out to be problematic. It turns out people don't really want to watch a video on training. They, you know, they glaze over or tune out and a lot of these other interactions and of course firefighters have nothing, but I say this and I are one, firefighters have nothing but time to learn how to game the system. So, how do you make the training engaging and impactful? And I think there's, I think there's answers out there, but I think it's still something that we all need to continue to work on and work towards to continue to improve it.

Jesse Watkins:

I agree. I mean, the bulk of our customers, and I'll just sum it up by saying they don't want to watch training. They want to participate in training.

Bill Godfrey:

That's a great way to say it.

Jesse Watkins:

You get the maximum amount of participation in your face-to-face deliveries, it's just all the way around. I'm not saying there's not benefit in virtual. There's absolute benefit in virtual, and we, we have had some customers that loved it and want to continue to do it, and I get that, completely understand it and hopefully we can support that to some extent. But in terms of the face-to-face, the overwhelming demand, what I saw from reviewing every piece of feedback we got on every virtual delivery we did over the year plus, was that folks were appreciative of virtual, that they could not wait to get back to hands-on, face-to-face training.

Bill Godfrey:

Total agreement, total agreement. Well, Jesse, I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to chat with us today and to talk about some of this stuff. It is, from my point of view, a special treat to have you take the time to come on and kind of talk about where the future of some of this is going and some of the other trainings that are available. So thanks for joining us today.

Jesse Watkins:

Thank you very much for having me Bill. It was my pleasure.

Bill Godfrey:

Alright. Great. That's Jesse Watkins, director of operations for the National Emergency Response and Recovery Training center. Our sponsor over at TEEX. Ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for joining us today. Hope you enjoyed the podcast. If you have any questions or suggestions for future podcasts, please send them to us at info@c3pathways.com. Again, that's info@c3pathways.com. Thank you to Karla Torres, our producer. And until next time stay safe.

48 episodes