Month: December 2022

Improving Decision Making for Public Safety Leaders in the National Capital Region.

Public safety leaders from across the National Capital Region (NCR)  recently participated in a four-part leadership seminar series on approaches to improving decision-making. The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) partnered with the National Preparedness Leadership Institute (NPLI) to host this professional development opportunity on behalf of the NCR. MDERS collaborated closely with NPLI to tailor this program to the unique characteristics and nuances of the Maryland-National Capital Region’s emergency response enterprise. The series was facilitated by Eric McNulty, Harvard

University’s National Preparedness Leadership Institute Associate Director and Co-Author of the book “You’re It,” and featured guest facilitators:

  • Anne Kronenberg, Affiliated Faculty, National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Peter Neffenger, Distinguished Senior Fellow, National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Richard Serino, Distinguished Senior Fellow, National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Darrell Darnell, Affiliated Faculty, National PreparednessLeadership Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

This interactive program introduced participants to the building blocks of sound decision-making and the tangible ways in which decision quality can be improved over time. The program explored various decision-making methods available to leaders and how to become more intentional about the use of each. Participants gained a

better understanding of how to instill and maintain decision discipline even in the challenging environment of a major incident. The series concluded with a “master class,” where participants applied the concepts and tools they learned using a scenario-based exercise highlighting a complex organizational leadership challenge currently faced within the NCR.

At the conclusion of the program, attendees highlighted the need for continued leadership development opportunities for emergency response leaders in the NCR. MDERS plans to contribute to the leadership

development of NCR stakeholders through

future training offerings.

For more information on leadership training opportunities, please contact

Eric McNulty, Associate Director Harvard University National Preparedness Leadership Initiative
Anne Kronenberg, Affiliated Faculty National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Peter Neffenger, Distinguished Senior Fellow, National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Richard Serino, Distinguished Senior Fellow, National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health   
Darrell Darnell, Affiliated Faculty Member Harvard University National Preparedness Leadership Initiative

Adapting to Emerging Trends and Leadership Training

As COVID-19 cases began to rise in early 2020, the world shut down in hopes of slowing the spread of this unknown and deadly infection. Non-essential workers worldwide transitioned to working from home, an option not available for essential workers within the Homeland Security Enterprise. Doctors and nurses continued to work at inundated hospitals, police and firefighters never stopped responding to emergency calls, and other essential workers continued to do their job while entering an even more dangerous and unknown situation. Additionally, leadership training has become an important aspect to personnel recruitment and retention, following the massive resignations and layoffs following the COVID-19 shutdown.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many public safety officials expressed feeling of being burnt out or overworked. Due to these ongoing issues, many organizations within the Homeland Security Enterprise began reevaluating staff training and retention strategies. Leadership trainings have recently been utilized to ensure that an organization’s human capital is supported in any way possible. Organizations such as the United States Capitol Police and the United States Environmental Protection Agency have created a Human Capital Strategic Plan to ensure all workforce members are utilized effectively and supervisors are provided with leadership training. These leadership classes are offered online, allowing participants to attend without leaving their desks. Such courses have proved to be beneficial, including a master class titled Leadership and Change Management featured in the FireRescue1 Academy. Maryland Emergency Response System (MDERS) continues to work with its stakeholder representatives to ensure the courses offered benefit the stakeholder, agency, and community.

To further support their personnel, many public safety agencies moved to a hybrid learning or meeting style once COVID-19 restrictions began to lift. Out of necessity, some ICS courses are offered online and in person. State Emergency Management organizations, such as Oklahoma, Florida, the District of Columbia, and California, have created online curricula for G-300: Intermediate ICS for Expanding Incidents & G-400: Advanced ICS, which were hosted exclusively in person prior the pandemic. Additionally, programs such as the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service’s (TEEX) Active Attack Event Response Leadership course, which was previously exclusively taught in person, can now be accessed completed entirely online.  MDERS is constantly researching different options for courses which can be provided to its stakeholders in a fully online or hybrid format.  The Training and Exercise Team at MDERS has coordinated courses from the National Preparedness Leadership Institute, and the National Association of Counties High Performance Leadership Academy, which are offered online.  Additionally, the National Tactical Officers Association online course, teaches police personnel on the legalities and challenges faced when responding to suicidal subjects.

The world has changed more quickly and abruptly than imagined, and due to these changes, the workforce and training methods need to evolve. Leaders are adapting the way they lead, and trainings are adjusting to ensure they are accessible to everyone safely. However, whether it is a hybrid learning model or all online, some adjustments must be made to ensure their longevity.  MDERS has expanded their offering to stakeholders and is constantly looking to improve the learning experience and will continue to search for classes that will help the leaders of the Maryland-National Capital Region.

Public Safety Agencies Train to Combat Sophisticated Threats

The homeland security threat landscape is constantly changing, requiring new and innovative approaches to incident response. The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) stakeholder community aims to regularly reassess their response priorities to adapt to emerging threats facing the community. To support this effort, MDERS provides training, technology funding, and planning support to build and enhance capabilities that ensure a coordinated response to emergency incidents. Threats, including cyber-attacks, active assailants, extreme weather, and mass decontamination remain as significant dangers to stakeholders. Daily reports of data breaches, or ransomware attacks taking place worldwide, show the volume of attacks are on the rise while hackers are adapting to circumvent new security measures. These attacks have proven to be economically crippling, time-consuming, and expensive to resolve.

On May 7, 2019, Baltimore City was attacked by a ransomware strike when city workers’ screens suddenly locked, and a message demanding cryptocurrency appeared on their screen. City files were encrypted and could only be accessed and opened with an access key provided by the attackers following the ransom payment. As a result, local public safety organizations began working with their Information Technology (IT) Departments to limit security vulnerabilities and prepare recovery plans. Baltimore City redirected 18 million dollars in city funds to harden its IT protocols following the attack. Even with constant updates and 24-hour surveillance, hackers are becoming more sophisticated and can infiltrate systems at almost any agency.

With the help of the MDERS, stakeholders had the opportunity to participate in a virtual cybersecurity workshop facilitated by three subject matter experts from the University of Maryland Center for    Health and Homeland Security (CHHS) and Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS). This workshop allowed stakeholders to learn effective organizational preparedness and response capabilities, which could be applied to their agencies. In addition, MDERS continues to offer training opportunities providing its stakeholders with cutting-edge techniques to help protect their agency.

As mass shooting events around the United States are occurring more regularly, active shooter training has become a higher priority for public safety agencies. MDERS has continued to facilitate tabletop exercises, full-scale exercises, and training for all stakeholder disciplines to ensure members of the Maryland-NCR community are prepared for such an event. Within the past year, MDERS has facilitated tabletop exercises and a full-scale active assailant exercise at Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) Training Facility and Firing Range. Additionally, MDERS worked with Prince George’s County Police Department and Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) Special Operations Division’s (SOD) leadership to create a tabletop series to ensure a cohesive response in an interdisciplinary multi-jurisdictional incident.

Over the past decade, weather challenges in the Maryland-NCR have become more unpredictable due to increasing in intensity. However, public safety agencies have learned to adapt and become resilient to climate change. More importantly, MDERS ensures to provide climate resiliency training opportunities and fund traveling expenses to allow stakeholders to attend climate emergency preparedness conferences. Participants learned about best practices from a variety of organizations and disciplines throughout the United States. In preparation for the winter weather, regional agencies have also conducted extensive tabletop exercises to ensure no gaps in their plans or capabilities.

Mass decontamination, the removal of dangerous substances or radioactivity by scrubbing a patient with soap and water, is becoming one of the essential facets of hospital, law enforcement, and fire/rescue/EMS preparedness and response. The training and equipment used for decontamination are highly adaptable, which allows public safety agencies and healthcare facilities to adjust their use for specific response operations. Decontamination shelters can be rapidly deployed in any location and easily stored away. Stakeholders may use decontamination shelters to establish incident command posts, support field triage, and other public safety response operations.

MDERS is regularly advised of new training and equipment requested by its five stakeholder disciplines: law enforcement, fire, rescue, EMS, emergency management, public health, and the hospital systems in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Together these disciplines, and MDERS, collaborate to provide the Maryland-NCR with innovative training and exercise initiatives to combat the ever-changing threats facing the Homeland Security Enterprise.