The University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security(CHHS)has received a $650,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the continuation of CHHS' emergency planning course, titled, "Preparing the States: Implementing Continuity of Operations Planning."
The course, which was recently certified by DHS/FEMA, provides state, local, and tribal emergency planners with the knowledge and skills to develop Continuity of Operations (COOP) plans for their jurisdictions. The grant was based on the previous success of CHHS' nationwide COOP program and will enable CHHS staff to increase COOP training sessions across the country.
COOP planning is the effort to ensure the continued operation of essential government functions during a wide range of potential emergencies. Whether the hazard is the result of a natural or human-induced event, an "all-hazards" approach coupled with catastrophic-event-preparedness training assures that, regardless of the emergency, essential functions will continue. The course was developed and was initially implemented by CHHS under a $1.48 million contract from DHS in 2005.
The COOP course is offered in direct delivery or train-the-trainer versions. The direct delivery course is comprised of 11 modules, each of which provides instruction on various aspects of how to develop COOP plans. The train-the-trainer version also teaches participants how to teach the course to additional personnel in their jurisdictions. Both the direct delivery and train-the-trainer versions include interactive group discussions, use of a fully developed sample agency, and discussion-based exercises.
Thus far, staff has conducted 14 COOP programs, training almost 400 individuals. These trainings have taken place in 13 different jurisdictions so far, including four Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) regions - one Tier I and three Tier II regions.(UASI is an annual DHS grant program that was created to fund counterterrorism efforts in high-threat, high-density urban areas.)
For this year's UASI grants, DHS split the nation's urban areas into two tiers. Tier I contains the six largest urban areas, including the National Capital Region, and Tier II contains the remaining 40 smaller urban areas, of which Baltimore is one.) The additional $650,000 just awarded to CHHS will enable the staff to conduct an additional 36 trainings in four more UASI regions by the end of the year (three Tier I regions and one Tier II region) and train more than 1,000 people).
"There is a continuing need for this type of training in jurisdictions across the country. Governments must have effective COOP plans in place in order to continue delivering critical services to citizens," said Alexandra Podolny, JD, a CHHS senior law and policy analyst and COOP program manager. "Many still do not have these plans; the additional funding for this course will ensure that additional jurisdictions can begin creating these much-needed plans." The course goals are derived from the Nationwide Plan Review, the National Preparedness Goal, and the Target Capabilities List. The additional funding allows most jurisdictions to receive the training without cost.
"We are gratified by the vote of confidence given by DHS in continuing its financial support for this valuable emergency planning program for state, local, and tribal governments across the nation," said Michael Greenberger, JD, director of CHHS. "We are also gratified by being able to contribute in this meaningful way to the safety of American citizens."
For more information about COOP training, visit www.umaryland.edu/dhscoop.