Catered with an amazing meal prepared by Chef Barnes and his students (who stayed late!) the Connecticut Disaster Medical Assistance Team held their first meeting in our Emergency Operations Center. We had a surprise special guest who traveled from Washington, D.C. for the meeting, Jonathan Greene, Director of the Office of Emergency Management and Medical Operations for the US Department of Health and Human Services. He came to be a part of the meeting, provide an update to employees, and speak about the importance of projects like our EOC to the greater state of National readiness. It was quite an honor and a very pleasant surprise. The meeting went well and at the end, Mr. Greene even swore in the new members of the DMAT team personally. Mr. Greene was very impressed with the work of our CJPS students and inspired that they might be the next generation of employees within the National Disaster Medical System.
Mental health is a critically important part of the CJPS trade for numerous reasons. Critical incident stress remains a significant factor in the health of responders nationwide and teaching our students how to effectively manage their mental health after seeing and experiencing traumatic scenes is very important. In addition to their own personal mental health, members of the public with mental health issues are disproportionately more likely to have contact with police, fire, and EMS services. Training our students to understand mental health issues and how to help people experiencing crisis is very important. We were fortunate enough to have Jen and Joy from the Wheeler Clinic come and teach the Mental Health First Aid course. The mental health first aid course is a skills-based training that teaches participants how to identify, understand and respond to someone who is experiencing a mental health or substance-use problem, and connect them to appropriate care if necessary. Thank you Jen and Joy for providing this great training for all of our students!
CT ANG Visits, our First Responder Canteen opens, and our new freshman class finishes their first cycle!
There is no secret that Mr. C loves Thanksgiving. This year I decided to send our students off with a little sweetness thanks to our local NoRa Cupcake!! Have a great weekend everyone!
Cycle 5 was very fast paced! The sophomores jumped right into hazardous materials training with Fire Marshal Waznia. This included a practical exercise in level C personal protective equipment as well as a trip to I-91 to identify hazardous materials being transported. We were lucky enough to catch a few truck inspections in the process thanks to the Connecticut State Police!
Meanwhile, the juniors learned all about mental illness and how it relates to the trade; particularly to police, EMS, and corrections. As part of this unit, the students experienced what it was like for someone suffering from schizophrenia having auditory delusions. It was very eye-opening for the students.
The sophomores then jumped into their final FEMA class in preparation for operation the EOC; the National Response Framework. All students passed the online exam and earned their certification.
We had two other visitors to the program during the cycle, our newest addition to the program, Paul P. who is a retired member of the special forces community and Mr. Charles Grady of the FBI in New Haven. Both were great guests and we can't wait to have them back.
Perhaps the highlight of the cycle however, was junior Jay Lounds presenting a lesson he developed from scratch on the psychology of serial killers. It was extremely well put together and the whole class was glued to his every word, myself included. His presentation was extremely well researched and he was able to answer every question asked. It was impressive!
Running an emergency operations center is NOT an easy task. In fact, it takes significant training and practice. With the training and certifications under their belts, construction almost complete, and several mini-dry runs, it was time for our first large-scale trial run! Fortunately, we have many experts available to help us and had the privilege to bring in Lieutenant Sean Delaney of the Water Witch Hose Company of New Milford. Lt. Delaney is an Incident Command System and National Incident Management System expert and was able to bring his real-world experience to our classroom with a breakdown of the 2018 Macroburst that produced a number of devastating tornadoes across the State. Afterwards, students were divided into organizations such as police, fire, EMS, city, and utilities and then further divided into job functions. The student-led command staff had to develop appropriate objectives for the operational period and the teams had to work to meet the objectives as creatively as possible. The students had multiple briefings and used all of the resources available to them. The trial run was so successful, that the students had a flurry of ideas on how to improve our own operation and it was evident to the instructors that the Vinal Tech Emergency Operations Center is going to produce some impressive results and become a real asset to the Nation in times of need.