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Aerial View of the Dowagiac Campus

FEMA trains SMC staff

A seven-member team from Southwestern Michigan College graduated Jan. 23 from an intense four-day integrated emergency management course offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Emergency Management Institute (EMI) in Emmitsburg, Md.

Forty-three participants converged just south of Gettysburg, Pa., from Florida, Alaska, New Jersey, Connecticut, Utah, Washington, D.C., New York, California, Maine, Colorado, Wisconsin, Tennessee, California, Kansas, Missouri, Oregon and Puerto Rico.

Institutions of higher education represented besides SMC included the University of Utah and State University of New York, Plattsburgh.

The objectives of the SMC team were to analyze community emergency plans, policies and procedures, identify additional planning needs and resources, clarify roles and responsibilities and improve team coordination for better response/recovery capabilities.

SMC Chief of Staff Thomas Atkinson, who previously completed the training with the City of Dowagiac, said, “We wanted to give our key players awareness of what their roles might be if something catastrophic happens on campus.”

The Camp David presidential retreat is near Thurmont, also in Frederick County.

Classes took place in a building renovated in 2001 that houses simulation laboratories for EMI and the National Fire Academy.

After 18 units of coursework, including overviews of fire service, law enforcement, emergency medical services (EMS), mass care, drafting written policies, stress and public works, the SMC team practiced disaster response in an EOC (Emergency Operations Center) equipped with a closed-circuit television studio.

Indicative of the caliber of the faculty was mayor Kevin Neary of Richmondville, N.Y., who taught the module on orientation to emergency management.

As chief of operations for the New York State Emergency Management Office, Neary responded to the 911 World Trade Center attacks from Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s office.