Local news- Press Release
Flagler County Florida - Flagler County hosts weeklong FEPA Academy 16 June 2022 ( news )
Flagler County , state Florida ( By Press Release office)
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June 16 , 2022
– Twenty - five emergency management professionals from 13 counties , the Salvation Army , and the Florida Division of Emergency Management made Flagler County their temporary home as they immersed themselves in the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association ( FEPA ) Intermediate Academy – hosted by the county .
“Typically , the academy is held at the Florida National Guard Camp Blanding Joint Training Center , but FEPA is piloting new curriculum and there were scheduling conflicts , so I volunteered our support , as it also gave us a chance to showcase Flagler County’s programs and capabilities , ” said Emergency Management Director Jonathan Lord , who is serving his ninth term on the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association Board of Directors . “This academy is so important because it better prepares Florida’s emergency managers for the future . ”
Polk County Emergency Manager Billy Abernathy led the academy with the support of instructors from several counties – including Ryan Simpson , and Nealon Joseph from Flagler , both graduates of the academy – the Florida Division of Emergency Management , and the U . S . Department of Homeland Security .
“The great thing about this academy – besides the core curriculum we teach – is the camaraderie that develops , ” Abernathy said . “A lot of the people participating are new to their positions . When something happens , they will be working with other counties and agencies . This not only gives them a taste of what this is like , but they are already building meaningful relationships with people they will rely upon in the future . A lot of the smaller counties have one - , two - , or maybe three - person ( emergency management ) teams . You can’t do it by yourself . ”
Brittany Brooks , an emergency management planner from Hernando County , has been on the job for just four months .
“My bachelor’s degree is in Public Safety and Emergency Management , ” she said . “School provides the theory – the bones – but here we get the meat and potatoes . The presenters have been outstanding , and there are so many people from so many areas that you get exposure to all their different ( location - based ) issues and capabilities . Everything makes more sense now . ”
Participants have been living “on campus” since Sunday and will finish at noon on Friday . The course includes more than 60 hours of classroom instruction endured in 12 - to 14 - hour days to simulate real life emergency operations , deployment , and response .
They trained Thursday afternoon at Princess Place Preserve using a Flagler County customized GIS - based phone app – powered by ESRI’s “Quick Capture” – for live tracking of individual search - and - rescue members , hazards reporting , and accurate data sharing that was instantaneously transmitted back to the home base .
“This was scaled down from the exercise we did in January with the Sheriff’s Office and Fire Rescue , but it is an excellent live application to get them all working together , ” Lord said . “Earlier in the week , they did a literal tabletop exercise in ‘Happy Town’ with small buildings and Matchbox - type vehicles . Teamwork and team building is key . ”
Besides the GIS division assisting with the Princess Place training , several other departments , divisions , and entities were key in ensuring the academy was possible: Transportation , Facilities , Parks , Tourism , the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office , and many emergency management volunteers .
“We were able to do this at our EOC ( Emergency Operations Center ) because we have a proper dormitory , shower facilities , and a kitchen , ” Lord said . “This also gave us an opportunity to exercise and test all these facilities and our related procedures as if it were a real disaster . We’ve not activated the EOC when we’ve had people stay here for a full week in a very long time . This was really a win - win for everyone . ”
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