Algerian Delegation Explores MDERS Operations in Collaborative Exchange

In November 2023, the World Trade Center Institute (WTCI) presented the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) with a unique opportunity to meet with a delegation from Algeria. The Algerian delegation participated in the United States Department of State’s flagship International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). The program theme for the visiting group was “Disaster Preparedness, Emergency Management, and Volunteerism.”

Handpicked by the United States Embassy in Algeria, all participants in the program traveled to the U.S. with the aim of learning best practices in their respective fields. The Algerian delegation expressed a specific interest in exploring topics such as the Incident Command System (ICS), Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and various training and exercise programs.

The MDERS staff warmly welcomed the Algerian delegation upon their arrival at the Prince George’s County Public Safety Firearms Range. Following the introductions, Acting Co-Director Lauren Collins and Senior Emergency Response Specialist Hannah Thomas presented the delegation with a comprehensive overview of MDERS capabilities. The presentation delved into MDERS’ involvement in the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant process and highlighted MDERS’ robust training and exercise programs. Representatives from the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD), including Major Charles Magee, Commander of the Training and Education Division, and Sergeant Nicholas Fiore, Training and Education Division, shared valuable insights during their presentation on a full-scale active shooter and barricade exercise conducted in April 2022. Major Magee praised MDERS for their dedication and attention to detail during the eight-month process in which the full-scale exercise was planned and executed. Sergeant Fiore delivered a comprehensive overview of the exercise, highlighting the sequence of actions, skills utilized, and areas of improvement identified during response operations. Senior Project Manager William Abuelhawa provided additional perspective on law enforcement response operations to enhance the presentation based on his previous role as the Tactical Commander in the Special Operations Division of PGPD. Fully engaged in the presentations, the Algerian delegation asked many insightful questions.

After the presentations, Instructor Lou Williams led the delegation on a tour of the Prince George’s County Public Safety Firearms Range. Mr. Williams showcased the live fire ranges and thoroughly reviewed the capabilities that this state-of-the-art facility has to offer. The delegation then explored the equally impressive less lethal aspects of the facility, including the Tactical Maze, designed for tactical room clearing exercises with movable walls for varied scenarios. The catwalk feature of the maze allowed instructors to provide immediate feedback to trainees.

Next, the hosts provided the Algerian delegation an overview of the outdoor training area, featuring realistic settings such as an apartment building, a townhouse, and simulated businesses, all furnished to enhance the training environment. The extensive camera system enabled observation of training evolutions from the control room.

At the conclusion of the Firearms Range tour, the Algerian delegation expressed their admiration for MDERS’ capabilities and extensive training and exercise programs. Their active participation throughout the visit fostered an exchange of ideas and perspectives beneficial to all parties. The Algerian delegation visit was a tremendous success, and MDERS eagerly anticipates future opportunities to engage in global counterparts.