Enhancing Tactical Operations Skills within Prince George’s County Police Department Special Operations Division

Since 2014, the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) prioritized the development and implementation of a comprehensive training program for the department’s Special Operations Division (SOD) personnel. PGPD identified several tactical capabilities requiring specialized training, including sniping, breaching, close-quarters battle (CQB), and incident command. Through the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS), PGPD partnered with the Direct-Action Resource Center, a leading training facility in Little Rock, AR. DARC specializes in tactical, technical and strategic planning, developmental training, evaluation, and implementation for the military, law enforcement, public agencies, and private enterprises.

DARC offers curriculum designed to build in complexity as students progress into more advanced tactics. DARC requires all students to complete two pre-requisite courses prior to enrolling in more advanced offerings. These pre-requisites are identified and summarized below.

  • LECTC-1: Teaches tactical personnel the basics of enemy tactics, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) operations.
  • LECTC-2: Further expands upon the principles learned in LECTC-1 while incorporating the basics of live fire breaching tactics and hostage rescue best practices.

After completing the LECTC-1 and LECTC-2 prerequisites, students may enroll in specialized response areas, such as advanced operational breaching, advanced sniper integration, and tactical night vision instruction. These courses provide operators with the knowledge and tools required to lead a breaching team, integrate a sniper and observer team in tactical operations, deploy during large venue counter-terrorism operations, and conduct operations using night-vision capabilities. The specific courses attended by PGPD since 2014 are identified and summarized below.

  • Level One Breacher Course (L1BC): Educates operators on the basics of safe, practical, and effective explosive breaching techniques for tactical operations.
  • Advanced Explosive Breaching and Program Supervisors Course: Focuses on explosive breaching and the development and sustainment of a breaching program for managing or supervisory positions within an organization.
  • Advanced Sniper Integration Course (ASIC): Instructs sniper and observer teams on the skills and tactics necessary to provide support for tactical operations in complex environments or large venues under a variety of conditions, ranges, visibility, and target types.
  • Tactical Night Vision Instructor Course: Instructs law enforcement training officers on the deployment, integration, limitations, and considerations of night vision technology to bring back to their local departments and create in-house training programs for other law enforcement personnel.
  • Tactical Supervisor/Managers Course: Trains SWAT supervisors and managers to prepare SWAT teams for operations, document their activities, conduct short- and long-term planning, including training, sustainment, outfitting, and acquisition of specialized skills.

As a result of the long-standing partnership, PGPD and DARC collaborated to develop a custom-tailored curriculum that incorporates tactical emergency casualty care (TECC) in CQB situations, under both live and simulated fire. This course, entitled Close Quarters Battle/TECC, integrates emergency medicine, explosive and ballistic breaching, live-fire training, and force-on-force training across a variety of high threat scenarios including active shooters, high risk warrants, barricades, hostage rescue, and complex coordinated terrorist attacks. To date, 31 members of PGPD SOD participated in this specialty offering.

Through DARC, over 147 PGPD officers trained on tactical capabilities, mater advanced skillsets, and gain operational experience to respond to high-stress austere environments. PGPD continues to pursue opportunities to provide more advanced and specialized training for its personnel so that they may better serve the residents of Prince George’s County.

Montgomery County Police Department Executive Staff Participate in Tabletop Exercise Series

In January 2022, the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) responded to an active shooter incident involving a student at Magruder High School in Montgomery County, Maryland. Following that incident, and considering other recent active shooter events, MCPD leadership saw an opportunity to provide training to their executive staff to better prepare them for similar situations.

Between February and April 2022, MCPD planned and conducted four tabletop exercises for MCPD executive staff with support from the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS). These exercises assessed MCPD executive staff’s ability to manage the first 30-60 minutes of a major incident, including phases one and two of their response process, while reinforcing participants knowledge and understanding of MCPD directives, policies, and procedures.

A planning team comprised of MDERS and MCPD personnel met bi-weekly for eight weeks to design and develop these exercises. The MCPD representatives selected to participate on the exercise planning team are considered subject matter experts. These individuals all played a role in the response to the Magruder High School incident. Their firsthand knowledge of the incident informed the scenario and Master Scenario Events List (MSEL). MCPD’s directives, policies, and procedures, including the Active Assailant Emergency Response Plan, also informed the development of the MSEL.

The exercise scenario occurred at a local high school in Montgomery County and was modeled after the shooting incident at Magruder High School. The scenario aimed to build MCPD executive staff’s confidence in handling a critical incident. Interactive exercise play, which combined the use of props and floor plans, alongside a discussion facilitated by MCPD and MDERS personnel engaged exercise participants as they responded to the scenario.

In total, 58 MCPD representatives participated in this exercise series, which marks the first MDERS-supported exercises for the department. While the formal after-action review process is ongoing and expected to conclude in August 2022, preliminary feedback from exercise participants was positive. With the completion of this initial exercise series, MCPD executive staff better understand the need for proficiency in key areas of incident command and response. The department continues to work towards providing additional opportunities for officers to build and refine their incident command skills, and gain the operational experience needed to perform in high-stress environments.

Fiscal Year 2020 in Review

Over the course of FY20, spanning from June 1, 2021, through May 31, 2022, the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System continued to assist stakeholders with enhancing response capabilities through the provision of plan and policy development, training and exercise development and deliver, and equipment acquisition to support the missions of partner agencies. Throughout this period of performance, MDERS oversaw the implementation and/or expansion of ten unique capabilities:

  • Ballistic Protection for Fire/Rescue/EMS Personnel
  • Emergency Management Response and Recovery Professional Services
  • Incident Command Tools
  • Innovation Fund
  • Law Enforcement Special Events Response
  • Mass Casualty Incident Support
  • Medical Resource Officers
  • Public Access Trauma Care (PATC)
  • Tactical Equipment for Law Enforcement
  • Training and Exercise Program

MDERS approached each of these programs through a comprehensive capability development process that builds, implements, and sustains emergency response capabilities. Through this process, with the guidance of its Steering Committee and support of its partner agencies, MDERS continues to pursue its ultimate vision of integrating and optimizing all capabilities to provide superior service to the near two million residents of Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.

An overview of each program supported in FY20 is provided in the following sections.*

Ballistic Protection for Fire/Rescue/EMS Personnel

To better protect fire/rescue/EMS personnel that may deploy to provide medical care in a “warm” or “hot” zone during an active threat event, MDERS procured a variety of protective equipment for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) and Prince George’s County Fire and EMS Department (PGFD). This equipment includes ballistic-rated body armor, armor plate carriers, and both ballistic-rated and non-ballistic eye and face protection. Additionally, MDERS provided modular medical supplies that mount to armored plate carriers, including shears, tactical emergency casualty care supplies, triage tape, flashlights, and litters that may be used to transport patients or injured responders to a casualty collection point.

Emergency Management Response and Recovery Professional Services

MDERS continued its support of the diverse missions and functions of the Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (OEMHS) and the Prince George’s County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) through the provision of professional services. In Montgomery County, MDERS funds a full-time employee that supports OEMHS’s emergency management and volunteer and donations management, as well as the provision of funding for as-needed contract support through the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security. In Prince George’s County, MDERS funds four full-time employees. One dedicated to planning, one dedicated to training and exercises, and two dedicated to volunteer and donations management.

Incident Command Tools

To expand and enhance the incident command capability for use by current and future incident commanders in the public safety community, MDERS procured a variety of equipment, field reference materials, and software. These investments include the provision of video cameras, monitors, and other hardware and software that supports the Command Competency Labs, local training resources which allows incident commanders to train in immersive, simulated environments. Additionally, MDERS designed and provided hard-copy command guides for the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) to assist officers in establishing and maintaining incident command to a variety of common events.

Innovation Fund

In FY20, MDERS implemented the Emerging Homeland Security Pilot program, otherwise known as the “Innovation Fund.” Through the Innovation Fund, stakeholder agencies are able to apply to procure, implement, and evaluate novel solutions to address emerging response challenges. After receiving and evaluating the specific technology, stakeholder agencies can then assess whether to proceed with further investments and operationalization. Some of the technology piloted through the Innovation Fund over the past year include:

  • Augmented Training Systems (ATS) Virtual Reality provides MCFRS a portable solution to mass casualty triage training through the Oculus virtual reality headset.
  • MyEOP Mobile Application provides Region V healthcare systems with a mobile application that serves as a document repository for critical response plans, reference information, or other documentation that can be accessed from any mobile device.
  • Leader Search Bluetooth Listening Devices provide MCFRS’s and PGFD’s structural collapse rescue teams with a rapidly deployed sensor to listen for trapped victims.
  • PerSim Augmented Reality Patient Assessment Training System provides MCFRS with an interactive patient assessment training tool utilizing the Microsoft Hololens system, which can project injuries, as well as responses to patient care, on top of live patients or mannequins.
  • Situational Awareness Cameras for Law Enforcement Armored Vehicles provide MCPD with vehicle-mounted cameras that can stream real-time footage of an incident scene back to the incident command post.
  • Structural Collapse Training Mannequins provide structural collapse and search and rescue teams with high fidelity patient simulators that can easily be transported to different training sites, but are durable enough for austere conditions.

Law Enforcement Special Events Response

MDERS supported the continued implementation of the Montgomery County Police Department’s (MCPD) and PGPD’s public order/civil disturbance capability through the procurement and provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and specialized training for both departments Level 1 response teams. Officers equipped with this PPE and the knowledge, skills, and abilities provided during the Level 1 training enable MCPD and PGPD to respond to large-scale civil disturbance events with an operational posture informed by the most modern standards developed across the United States and Europe.

Mass Casualty Incident Support

MDERS continued its goal to better prepare its partners to triage, treat, and transport victims of a mass casualty incident through the procurement of a mobile mass casualty incident support cache. At the core of this cache, a 26’ Ford F650 box truck that will be appropriately outfitted with necessary medical equipment and supplies by the Region V Healthcare Coalition. Available to any of the six major healthcare systems in Montgomery and Prince George’s County, this cache serves as an on-demand resource that will deploy and support local healthcare facilities during an acute surge that exceeds existing capacity.

Medical Resource Officers

MDERS funded two, full-time medical resource officers (MROs), one each in Montgomery and Prince George’s County, to bolster public health emergency preparedness and response capabilities. These MROs lead the coordination of the local Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers in both counties, including the recruitment, credentialing, planning, training, exercising, and deployment of volunteers. Through the coordination and oversight by the MROs, the county MRCs aim to strengthen individual, community, and workplace preparedness in the Maryland-National Capital Region. In both Montgomery and Prince George’s County, the MROs and the MRC that they oversee instrumentally supported ongoing COVID-19 response efforts, including operating call centers, conducting surveillance efforts, and supporting testing and vaccination sites.

Public Access Trauma Care (PATC)

MDERS continued the expansion of the PATC capability across Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. Designed to empower bystanders with the knowledge, skills, abilities, and supplies to deliver immediate medical care prior to the arrival of first responders, the PATC program deploys the equipment and training necessary to common injuries associated with life-threatening trauma. Over the past year, the PATC program provided a cache of 84 training kits to Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) for the continued delivery of training and education to students and faculty in the county. In Prince George’s County, MDERS procured 842 cabinets and five-pack kits that will be mounted in government buildings and public schools.

Tactical Equipment for Law Enforcement

MDERS remains a critical partner in supporting MCPD’s and PGPD’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team members. Over the past year, MDERS helped MCPD procure a variety of equipment for its SWAT team, including thermal imaging technology, night vision goggles, long-range targeting camera systems, ballistic shields, bomb disposal robotics, training supplies, cold weather gear, and upfitting response vehicles with essential tools and equipment. Simultaneously, MDERS provided PGPD’s SWAT team members with bomb disposal robotics, gas masks, and the funding necessary to refurbish armored vehicles. Through these investments, MDERS supported MCPD’s and PGPD’s ability to expeditiously, effectively, and efficiently respond to and mitigate a variety of high-threat scenarios.

Training and Exercise Program

MDERS’s Training and Exercise program offers numerous opportunities for stakeholders to develop and enhance capabilities through in-person, virtual, and hybrid curricula. These offerings range from highly specialized tactical trainings to policy-level and leadership theory. These events include:

  • Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Conference: This conference focuses on integrated response topics for law enforcement, fire/rescue/EMS personnel, medical providers, and emergency management professionals that may be involved in active threat response operations.
  • Advanced Strategic Public Order Command: This course instructs students on a variety of critical concepts necessary for effective Public Order Command and Control, including the role of law enforcement during protests or disorder, command structures, strategy, tactical planning and decision making, and overarching responsibilities.
  • Anatomy Gift Registry Lab: This training teaches emergency medical technicians and paramedics the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities outlined in the Maryland Medical Protocol and allows students to apply those skills on real tissue.
  • Assessment and Training Solutions Consulting Corporation (ATSCC) Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) Live Tissue Class: This class instructs tactical law enforcement personnel and other special operations responders with a practical procedures and skills laboratory, as well as a simulated mass casualty incident exercise scenario to practice self-aid and buddy-aid in a high-threat environment.
  • Direct Action Resource Center (DARC) Advanced Sniper Integration Course: This course instructs sniper and observer teams on the skills and tactics necessary to provide support for tactical operations in complex environments or large venues under a variety of conditions, ranges, visibility, and target types.
  • DARC Level 1 Training: This course provides law enforcement officers with the knowledge of tactical leadership, terrain analysis, and planning methodologies to combat a coordinated, multi-cell attack within their jurisdiction.
  • DARC Level 2 Training: This course expands upon the Level 1 training through the use of life-fire training, explosive and ballistic breaching, and sniper/observer support to help law enforcement officers combat complex, multi-cell attack within their jurisdiction.
  • DARC Close Quarters Battle/TECC: This course integrates emergency medicine, tactical emergency casualty care, explosive and ballistic breaching, live-fire training, and force-on-force training across a variety of high threat scenarios including active shooters, high risk warrants, barricades, hostage rescue, and complex coordinated terrorist attacks.
  • DARC Night Vision Instructor Course: This train-the-trainer course instructs law enforcement training officers on the deployment, integration, limitations, and considerations of night vision technology to bring back to their local departments and create in-house training programs for other law enforcement personnel.
  • DeconTect Train-the-Trainer Decontamination Training: This train-the-trainer course provides training officers for public safety agencies with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to develop standard operating procedures and in-house training programs for their department for various decontamination scenarios including cold weather decon, post-fire decon, disinfection, and low-footprint decon.
  • EMT Tactical Basic Course: This course encompasses a nationally standardized curriculum and certification for EMTs, paramedics, and physicians that operate as part of a law enforcement special response team.
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Symposium: This virtual conference offers participants the opportunity to engage across multi-disciplinary government agencies and industry experts about the regulations, ongoing research, and current initiatives pertaining to the use of UAS within the National Airspace System, including safety, remote identification, regulations, flight times, and beyond visual line of sight operations.
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Law Enforcement Executive Development Association (LEEDA) Command Leadership Training: This training prepares law enforcement leaders for command level positions through a variety of topics including command responsibility, discipline and liability, team building, resilient leadership, and leading change within an organization.
  • Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) International Annual Conference: This conference provides fire/rescue professionals from around the globe with the opportunity to learn directly from instructors, in classrooms, during workshops, with hands-on-training, and novel technology offerings that cover a breadth of topics across the fire/rescue industry.
  • First Receiver Operations Training (FROT): This course educates first responders and first receivers on the lifesaving skills necessary to identify, triage, treat, and decontaminate victims exposed to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or other hazardous materials in compliance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines.
  • FireStats: This class provides students with an enhanced understanding of statistics and decision sciences as they pertain to the fire/rescue/EMS industry, specifically in deployment analysis, data presentation, and resource planning.
  • Gracie Survival Tactics Level I Course: This course teaches students 23 standing and ground-based defensive techniques that address the most common situations which may threaten law enforcement officers.
  • High Angle Sniper Course: This course provides law enforcement officers with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to conduct sniper missions and precision shooting from elevated surfaces in both urban and rural environments.
  • High Performance Leadership Academy: This course provides public sector leaders and decision-makers with an interactive online learning platform, which combines real-time webinars, recorded sessions, and interactive small group discussions, to enhance students’ abilities to conduct five key skills: leading, organizing, collaborating, communicating, and delivering.
  • International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Annual Conference: This conference engages emergency management professionals across all levels of government and private sector organizations on contemporary topics across the emergency management enterprise.
  • Louisiana State University Homeland Security Specialist MicroCert: This program encompasses a variety of topics within the homeland security enterprise, including collaboration between homeland security and law enforcement in a post 9/11 environment, the tradecraft of modern terrorism, intelligence, multi-agency partnerships, and public-private partnerships.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Crisis Management and Business Resiliency Course: This course provides emergency management professionals with a combination of lecture-based learning, case studies, and interactive activities to examine modern crisis management response, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Master Tactical Breacher Course: This course provides law enforcement officers with a comprehensive understanding of breaching techniques and their application across multiple environments, including explosive, manual, mechanical, ballistic, thennal, and hydraulic breaching methodologies.
  • MDERS Annual Symposium: This virtual symposium fosters creativity and innovation to address the numerous complexities faced by emergency response organizations and the homeland security enterprise, including climate change and its impact on critical infrastructure, pandemic response, cyber threats to public safety, rising violent extremism, and other ongoing threats.
  • MDERS Cybersecurity Workshop: This workshop provides participants with an understanding of how their organization can better prepare for and respond to a cyber incident. The course combines both an instruction on key cybersecurity concepts and allows participants to directly apply those concepts in an interactive setting.
  • National Association of County and City Health Officials (NAACHO) Preparedness Summit: This summit engages public health officials on a variety of topics including leadership and workforce, strategic partnerships, flexible and sustainable funding, data analysis, and foundational infrastructure.
  • National Association of Emergency Medical Services Physicians (NAEMSP) Annual Meeting: This conference provides EMS medical directors with the opportunity to learn from medical experts in specialized fields and enhance their knowledge in scientific and technological advancements in the EMS field.
  • National Homeland Security Association (NHSA) National Homeland Security Conference (NHSC): This conference helps personnel from various emergency disciplines to identify emerging homeland security threats and shares new technologies to enhance operational response efforts.
  • National Preparedness Leadership Initiative (NPLI) Virtual Seminar Series: Transformational Connectivity: This seminar series brings together leaders from across the emergency response spectrum to impart the tools and techniques of Meta-Leadership to help foster a connective and high-performance work environment.
  • Pinnacle Conference: This conference engages EMS leaders to adapt to the changing environment of emergency medical services through thought provoking lectures and smaller educational sessions.
  • Resilient Virginia 2021 Conference: This conference delivers the tools, informational resources, and relationship building opportunities for attendees to build resiliency in their communities, help address climate change, and overcome social challenges throughout the process.
  • Rigging Lab Academy: This online course provides fire/rescue personnel with detailed instruction on objectives, strategies, and techniques used to enhance technical rescue, search and rescue, and other rope rescue programs.
  • Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show: This conference provides attendees with an opportunity to learn from, observe demonstrations, and evaluate evolving technology from military, law enforcement, and other tactical vendors.
  • Sniper Team Leader Course: This course supports sniper team leaders by reviewing and adjusting the team’s current programs and training requirements, ensuring proper documentation of training and operations, evaluating the team’s current supply inventory, and preparing each team for numerous response deployments.
  • Special Operations Medical Association (SOMA) Scientific Assembly (SOMSA) Conference: This conference enhances the medical capabilities of special operation medical providers through lectures and educational opportunities provided by medical professionals and civilian partners.
  • SWAT Command Decision-Making and Level 1 Course: This course provides SWAT team leaders with the necessary skills to effectively confront a multitude of different emergencies and prepare for every phase of the response including planning, negotiations, operational maneuvers, media engagement, and debriefs.
  • Tomahawk Fundamentals of Close Quarters Combat: This course provides law enforcement personnel with the best practices, techniques, and procedures for close quarter operations through simulated exercises and classroom education.

*A detailed synopsis and budgetary breakdown of each of these programs will be provided in the FY20 MDERS Annual Report over the coming months. This report will be available at

MDERS Expands Public Access Trauma Care to Montgomery College

The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) continuously engages with regional partners to expand the Public Access Trauma Care (PATC) program throughout Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. The PATC capability seeks to empower bystanders with the requisite medical equipment, knowledge, skills, and abilities to treat life threatening trauma prior to the arrival of first responders. To achieve this goal, MDERS coordinates the procurement and installation of readily accessible PATC kits, in a similar fashion to fire extinguishers or automated external defibrillators (AEDs), throughout government buildings, public schools, or other heavily populated facilities.

MDERS staff coordinated with officials from Montgomery College to strategize the expansion of the PATC capability into their facilities. As part of an expedited planning process, MDERS staff and Montgomery College officials walked through the Rockville campus to identify potential locations for the PATC kits and complete the necessary Environmental and Historic Preservation (EHP) paperwork. Montgomery College officials then repeated this process at their Germantown campus, Takoma Park campus, and Central Services facility.

Upon completion of all the necessary EHP documentation and paperwork, MDERS supplied Montgomery College with PATC bags and cabinets, which Montgomery College promptly installed in 90 locations across their facilities. Each of these bags stores a patient litter and five individual PATC kits. The individual kits contain a tourniquet, emergency compression dressing, compressed gauze, medical gloves, trauma shears, two chest seals, a survival blanket, a permanent marker, a mini duct tape roll, and a just-in-time instruction card. The expansion of the PATC capability throughout Montgomery College campuses provides an invaluable medical resource for prompt care of an injured victim.

MDERS staff recently met with Prince George’s Community College to discuss how the program could benefit their campus and is continuing to conduct targeted outreach to higher education institutions in the Maryland-National Capital Region.

For more information on the Public Access Trauma Care Program, or other emergency response capabilities, please email

MDERS Stakeholders Participate in the Louisiana State University’s Homeland Security Specialist MicroCert Program

In March 2022, nine members of the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) stakeholder community began Louisiana State University’s (LSU) 10-week Homeland Security Specialist MicroCert program. Participants included representatives from several stakeholder agencies: the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD), Prince George’s County Fire Department (PGFD), Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS), and MDERS.

The LSU Homeland Security MicroCert program seeks to instill a greater understanding of how law enforcement operates within the larger homeland security enterprise. To meet this goal, the program is separated into four self-paced courses and a capstone project:

  • Course 1: Homeland Security and Law Enforcement in a Post 9/11 Environment
  • Course 2: Tradecraft of Modern Terrorism
  • Course 3: Intelligence and Multi-Agency Partnerships
  • Course 4: Critical Infrastructure and Private/Public Partnerships
  • Capstone: Operationalizing Homeland Security Concepts

The first course within the program focused on analyzing the increased emphasis on enhanced coordination between law enforcement agencies after the September 11th attacks in 2001. Next, the second module outlined common terrorist tactics and targets, identified attack modalities, and discussed various protective and mitigative actions that law enforcement agencies can enact. The third unit of the program identified best practices for multi-agency intelligence gathering, analysis, and information sharing. The fourth, and final, course within the program underscored the vulnerability of critical infrastructure and the importance of public private partnerships in strengthening response efforts.

The program culminated in a capstone activity that allowed students to apply a cumulative approach to the lessons learned throughout the instructional modules. Students planned a simulated terrorist attack within their respective jurisdictions. Using personal experiences and content learned throughout the program, students then identified mitigative and protective actions to help thwart the simulated attack. A combination of instructor interaction and direct feedback allowed students to better observe the application of the course material in a realistic environment.

Stakeholders who participated in the program rated the overall course highly, stating that:

  • “The LSU Homeland Security Specialist was thought provoking experience.”
  • “The course was very well done, and I enjoyed learning in an online manner.”
  • “The lessons learned will be very beneficial in the day-to-day activities of my job.”

With the completion of the Homeland Security Specialist MicroCert Program, MDERS stakeholders have a better understanding of potential threats to the Maryland-National Capital Region and how best to mitigate such hazards.

First Receivers Train on Mass Decontamination Operations in the Maryland-National Capital Region

To prepare for a potential response to individuals exposed to unknown hazardous substances, seven hospitals within the Maryland-National Capital Region participated in a series of First Receiver Operations Training (FROT) course offerings throughout the Spring of 2022. These two-day trainings educated first receivers on the knowledge, skills, and abilities to recognize a hazardous material exposure, triage patients, initiate field treatment, conduct decontamination, and transition patients to definitive care.

On the first day of the FROT training, students engaged in a classroom discussion that focused on identifying various hazardous materials, protecting against potential exposure, and the detailed process of setting up and operating a field decontamination site. The DECON, LLC instructor introduced various types of contaminants used in real-world events, the symptoms associated with different hazard agents, the proper protocols for donning and doffing personal protective equipment (PPE), and discussed the operation of mass decontamination sites.

During the second day of training, students received hands-on instruction and demonstrated their ability to properly configure a field decontamination site, including hot, warm, and cold zones, while wearing full PPE. Each of these decontamination sites includes an inflatable shelter with running water to augment permanent infrastructure inside healthcare facilities. Students practiced implementing triage methodologies, deploying equipment, and facilitating both ambulatory and non-ambulatory patient decontamination practices.

To culminate the training, students completed a capstone exercise on a hazardous waste operations and emergency response (HAZWOPER) scenario. The scenario necessitated that each team demonstrate their ability to sufficiently deploy and staff their field decontamination site within a specified time limit. During the scenario, students demonstrated mastery of their ability to appropriately don their PPE, deploy the mobile decontamination shelter, connect to running water, triage, and treat a simulated patient.

FROT training remains an imperative step to enhance the safety of first receivers while improving their abilities to manage a large-scale decontamination response. This training continues to provide an unparalleled opportunity to conduct hands-on training under real-world conditions that may be called upon to save lives within Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties.

MDERS Presents at the 2022 MDEMA Symposium

On May 31st through June 3rd, 2022, the Maryland Emergency Management Association (MDEMA) held its annual symposium in Ocean City, Maryland. This year’s symposium, entitled Vision for the Future of Emergency Management, brought together emergency managers, public safety personnel, and other responders from around the state to network and discuss a variety of topics currently impacting the emergency management enterprise.

As part of this year’s symposium, MDERS staff and stakeholders presented on four separate topics: Building Comprehensive Response Capabilities within the Maryland-National Capital Region, Fostering Collaboration and Coordination through Kinetic Learning, Strengthening Collaboration and Coordination through the Implementation of UAS, and Paving the Way for Public Access Trauma Care in the Maryland-National Capital Region. Each of these topics demonstrated different areas in which MDERS and its stakeholders are innovating and expanding the region’s emergency response capabilities.

Building Comprehensive Response Capabilities within the Maryland-National Capital Region

Director Luke Hodgson, Planning & Organization Program Manager Samuel Ascunce, and Finance & Logistics Program Manager Lauren Collins outlined to attendees how MDERS has established a capability development process which builds, implements, and sustains critical response capabilities in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties. At the core of the capability development process is the POETEE model, which consists of Planning, Organization, Equipment, Training, Exercise, and Evaluation. MDERS continues to successfully apply and adapt the capability development process across the Maryland-National Capital Region response enterprise to better strengthen stakeholders’ abilities to respond to a multitude of planned and unplanned operations. Participants gained the knowledge, tools, and best practices for building and/or enhancing capabilities within their jurisdictions.

Fostering Collaboration and Coordination through Kinetic Learning

Training and Exercise Specialist Hannah Thomas and Lt. John Berry from the City of Rockville Police Department facilitated a discussion with attendees on MDERS’s Tabletop in a Box program. This systematic, scalable, and economical approach for developing critical capabilities through readily deployable exercises, has been implemented throughout the Maryland-National Capital Region across a multitude of law enforcement, fire, rescue, and emergency medical services (EMS), healthcare, and public health organizations. Conference attendees participated in a Tabletop in a Box exercise during the conference, responding to a severe weather emergency in the Ocean City area leading up to a holiday weekend.


Strengthening Collaboration and Coordination through the Implementation of UAS

Training and Exercise Specialist Hannah Thomas, Chief Doug Hinkle from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS), Mitch Dinowitz from the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (OEMHS), and Lt. Victor “Tony” Galladora from the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) led a discussion with symposium attendees on the  development of Montgomery County’s small-unmanned aerial systems (sUAS) capability over the past four years. The program, which is now fully integrated within MCFRS, MCOEMHS, and MCPD, supports a variety of emergency response needs, including advanced situational awareness and information sharing. The panel of leaders from Montgomery County provided detailed examples on how the County deploys and benefits from the capability on an ongoing basis as part of its emergency response capabilities.

Paving the Way for Public Access Trauma Care in the Maryland-National Capital Region

Finance & Logistics Program Manager Lauren Collins and Emergency Response Planning Specialist Peter McCullough provided attendees with a deep-dive look at the origins, implementation, and expansion of the Public Access Trauma Care (PATC) in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties. Designed to educate, equip, and empower bystanders to provide life-saving medical aid in the critical minutes before responders arrive on-scene, the PATC program has been deployed across the Prince George’s and Montgomery County public school systems. Participants learned about the step-by-step process through which MDERS developed and deployed the PATC program, as well as how the program has already helped save lives in the Maryland-National Capital Region.

MDERS Hosts Annual Symposium: Reimagining the Threat Landscape

On May 4th and 5th, 2022, the Maryland-National Capita­l Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) hosted its annual symposium. This year’s event, themed Reimagining the Threat Landscape, brought together stakeholders from across the National Capital Region and beyond to discuss timely events and topics germane to the homeland security and public safety enterprise. To accommodate ongoing public health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic, MDERS broadcast this year’s symposium live via Zoom to provide flexibility and convenience for participants to virtually watch specific portions or all of the event.

Broadcast from Howard University’s WHUT studios in Washington, D.C., the first day of the symposium analyzed the events leading up to, during, and following the January 6th insurrection at the United States Capitol. Leaders from the District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA), District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services (FEMS), and MedStar Washington Hospital Center, provided their unique experience tackling the complex issues faced by their agencies throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Presidential Inauguration, and the January 6th insurrection.

Throughout the day, Darrell Darnell, a nationally recognized subject matter expert in homeland security and emergency management, moderated panel discussions with the speakers to further address specific challenges or areas or priority. The panels allowed the speakers to further explore their perspectives on how special events planning has and will continue to evolve in the wake of the insurrection, including leveraging the intelligence community, effective workforce allocation, and innovative ways to enhance community preparedness.

The second day of the symposium featured a variety of presentations facilitated by subject matter experts from governmental and academic institutions on the following emerging homeland security topics:

  • Supply Chain Resilience
  • The Power of Public/Private Partnerships
  • Small Unmanned Aerial Systems in Public Safety and Healthcare Operations
  • Naval Post Graduate School (NPS) Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS) Information Session
  • Best Practices for First Responder Psychological Safety and Health

Symposium attendees engaged in real time with the speakers through the Zoom Video Communications platform to ask questions or weigh in on the topics discussed.

The event was well received by attendees and highlighted the need for further training on many of the topics that were discussed. MDERS will continue to provide opportunities for the MDERS stakeholder community addressing the many response complexities facing organizations and the broader homeland security enterprise.

MDERS will host next year’s symposium in the Spring of 2023. Please check the MDERS website for further information.

MDERS and the Prince George’s County Police Department Partner to Conduct Active Shooter and Barricade Full-Scale Exercise

In April 2022, the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) culminated an eight-month effort in partnership with the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) to plan and conduct a series of exercises focused on the department’s response to an active shooter incident evolving into a barricaded suspect.

Planning efforts for this exercise cycle began in September 2021 for two exercises: a discussion-based, tabletop exercise (TTX), and an operations-based, full-scale exercise (FSE). Throughout the planning process, MDERS conducted bi-weekly planning meetings with PGPD leadership to establish exercise objectives, develop exercise scenarios, address logistical concerns, formulate timelines, identify participants, and assess needed resources for a realistic exercise environment. The planning team outline four primary objectives of the exercise series:

  • Evaluate Prince George’s County Police Supervisors and Command Staff’s ability to establish and maintain command and control.
  • Analyze the Prince George’s County Police Department’s transfer of command from patrol to special operations response.
  • Assess patrol officers’ ability to provide first responder initial care.
  • Assess Prince George’s County Police Tactical Emergency Medical Services (TEMS) personnel’s ability to provide point of injury and patient care, and extrication of patients.

On March 2, 2022, PGPD conducted the first exercise utilizing the MDERS Tabletop In A Box toolkit. This discussion-based exercise allowed participants to work through three, distinct scenarios using a “crawl, walk, run” philosophy. This philosophy introduces increasingly complex elements allowing participants to progressively become familiar with the scenario and examine more intricate concepts. Twenty-two officers worked through these scenarios on an aerial-view map of the incident location using simulated models of real-world resources.

On April 13th, 2022, the exercise cycle reached its capstone with a six-hour, full-scale exercise at PGPD’s Public Safety Firearm and Tactical Training Complex in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. The planning team purposefully selected this 160,000 square foot facility as it allowed exercise participants to train in a realistic environment with commercial and residential buildings, as well as provided a controlled area of play monitored closely by PGPD personnel for the safety of all exercise participants.

The FSE consisted of two scenarios designed to measure any training gaps between patrol officers and the teams who have received additional specialized training. The first scenario began with an active threat incident inside a restaurant that transitioned into a suspect fleeing and barricading inside a nearby apartment. In addition to patrol officers, this scenario necessitated the involvement of PGPD’s Conflict Negotiations Team, Special Operations Division, Aviation Division, and K-9 Unit.

Upon completion of the first scenario, the exercise planning team reset the facility to conduct a second scenario, targeted at a more advanced response team. The second scenario consisted of an active threat moving from a restaurant to a facility with multiple rooms. In lieu of a barricaded suspect, officers were prompted to neutralize the active threat and clear the building.

In all, 143 PGPD officers participated in the exercise, which marks MDERS’s first ever full-scale exercise. While the formal after-action review process is ongoing, and expected to conclude in July 2022, preliminary feedback from exercise participants was overwhelming positively and numerous strengths and areas for improvement were identified by the evaluation team which will help PGPD continue to improve and expand upon their existing response capabilities.

Building Close Quarters Clearance Capabilities in Montgomery County

Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) has built a comprehensive training program for their special operations division (SOD) personnel. With support from the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS), 18 officers from MCPD recently participated in a local offering of the Tomahawk Close Quarter Clearance (CQC) – Methodical Clearance Course. This training combines best practices and techniques for tactical entry and follow-on movement procedures.

This five-day course provides field-based training for law enforcement organizations to establish and refine standard operating procedures (SOPs) for CQC methodical and threshold clearance. Students learned several essential tactical skills, including threat priorities, use of cover, room entries, and follow-on movement.

The training occurred across five disparate locations throughout Montgomery County. The distinctive floorplan of each facility allowed operators to maneuver in diverse environments. The instructors provided real-time feedback to each trainee and the unit’s performance in the following areas: two-four-person room entries, room pie methods, angles/cross-pan, multiple rooms, de-confliction, stairway/hallway movement, single/dual access, and team size movement.

MCPD has made great strides by expanding its close-quarter clearance capabilities to include night vision operations. While the focus of CQC is on tactical entry and follow-on movement, it requires proficiency in observation, intelligence gathering, and operational planning. The local delivery of the Tomahawk CQC – Methodical Clearance Course allowed MCPD to train officers as a group and highlighted the need for more team-based training.
With the completion of the Tomahawk CQC – Methodical Clearance Course, MCPD understands the need to build/enhance competency in key areas of CQC.