The 14th Annual National Homeland Security Conference (NHSC) was recently held in Las Vegas, Nevada from August 30th, 2021, to September 2nd, 2021. The NHSC is an annual event sponsored by the National Homeland Security Association that is designed to bring together professionals from across the homeland security enterprise. Each year, the NHSC provides a variety of trainings, breakout sessions, dynamic keynote speakers, and tours of local target hazards or previous pertinent events to educate and provide information on topics ranging from cybersecurity to counterterrorism and grants management. The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) sponsored the attendance of 16 stakeholder agency personnel, as well as MDERS staff members.
This year’s NHSC participants attended presentations on unmanned aircraft systems, the COVID-19 pandemic, domestic violent extremist, cyber security, and more. The evaluations reflected that the participants benefited greatly from attending these sessions. Some comments include:
“I have a greater understanding of the capabilities and threats posed by unmanned systems. I also learned about existing and emerging technologies and the capabilities utilized to remediate these systems.”
“I enjoyed the session on planning for a multiple agency response exercise. The speaker gave me a better idea on how to get the agencies I would need in participation on board.”
Kinetic Mobile Tabletops: The Answer to Crawl Walk Run
At this year’s NHSC, MDERS Emergency Response Planner Michael Ryman, and Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) Captain Dwayne Dutrow, presented a breakout session titled: Kinetic Mobile Tabletops: The Answer to Crawl, Walk, Run. This hour-long session covered the three-year development of the MDERS Tabletop in a Box program and how it can be deployed as a systematic, scalable, and economical capability development tool across various emergency response disciplines. The presentation concluded with a review of real-world success stories from personnel who participated in various iterations of the MDERS Tabletop in a Box Program.
The MDERS Tabletop in a Box program is a coordinated effort with stakeholder agencies to provide a portable Incident Command System (ICS) training tool. The Tabletop in a Box program includes pre-scripted exercises, manipulatives, and maps of target hazard locations within their area of jurisdiction. This programs main tool is a portable box containing all materials required to run a hybrid exercise. This approach provides stakeholders with a forum to discuss, evaluate, and deconflict their response policies and procedures in a collaborative environment.
Since 2018, MDERS has delivered a total of 38 TTXs to law enforcement, fire/rescue/EMS, public health, and hospital stakeholders in the Maryland-NCR.