Workers return to Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Workers return to Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston

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ANNISTON, Ala. -

Smiling and waving, federal employees and contractors returned to work Thursday at the Center for Domestic Preparedness.

The Anniston facility has offices for FEMA and Department of Homeland Security.  External affairs director Lisa Hunter said about 800 federal employees and contractors work full time at the training center.

"We're excited to be back.  We want to take care of our first responders and take care of our community," Hunter said.

She said she missed her coworkers, and planned to have a lunch with several of them Thursday.  But Wednesday night she got a phone call that they could meet up again--at work.

The CDP provides special training for first responders and medical staff.

"What we focus on are skills that help out in any kind of biological or chemical attack; any kind of mass casualty incident.  We have lots of cohort groups who come here who are preparing," she said.

Some are small teams of first responders, while there are also larger organizations that send staff for training.  Crews who worked the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa came to Anniston to prepare for potential disasters.  The CDP is also training many first responders who will work Super Bowl XLVIII in New Jersey.

Homeland Security went ahead and canceled all classes for the month of October in late September, when it became apparent that a shutdown was likely to happen.  Now they are rescheduling, and will resume training sessions the last week of October.  The shutdown caused the cancellation or postponement of 15 classes which had about 500 people enrolled.

"It was frustrating that we had to turn students away because of class cancellations because of the government shutdown, but we're back on schedule," Hunter said.

"We're working very hard to reschedule the students that had to cancel."

The Department of Homeland Security covers the cost of travel, hotels, and meals for the trainees, so Hunter said the cancellations had no financial impact on students.

They are accepting applications for more first responders and medical staff interested in training.  You can get more information and apply here.

From November 11 through 15, the CDP will host an Integrated Capstone Event.

"Students from four or five different classes, whoever are here that week, they train in that different group based on their discipline.  On Friday we host this ICE event where they come together and we make it as realistic as possible," Hunter said.

"We have role players, sometimes 50 or 60 different role players, human patient simulators which are robots which can have injuries or can talk to students, and mannequins.

"The students have to go in, assess the situation triage the casualties, stabilize them, and then the people in healthcare leadership courses take over.  They treat the patients in the emergency department, stabilize them, and actually carry out their job," she said.

"They get to exercise in an environment that is very unique for them."

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