Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTV) – from Concept to Capability

The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) provides its member organizations with the services to develop comprehensive emergency response capabilities.  This includes dissecting a problem statement, developing a desired outcome state, and reverse engineering.  The result is a full set of plans, organizations, equipment, trainings, and exercises that address the entire need.  The case below highlights the benefits received from the MDERS methodology to address local needs.

UTV 2.jpg

Members of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS), Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD), Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department (PGFD), Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD). And Maryland ERS (MDERS) conducted a needs assessment to evaluate capabilities for off-road response to routine and large-scale events.  The team focused on after-action reports and incidents from all departments. That report identified a set of gaps that included policy development, equipment needs, and training requirements. Working with local leaders, MDERS received an allocation from the Urban Area Security Initiative to address those needs.

All departments developed a policy to address the technical rescue operations. Operational personnel completed training on the Utility Terrain Vehicle (UTV).  All vehicles, equipment, and training were purchased using Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) funds to address gaps in response, rescue, and evacuation of casualties from a terrorist incident, while also recognizing the dual-use for routine emergency operations for each department. Montgomery and Prince George’s County police and fire departments received a combination of 17 units with equipment and removable skids. 

Training for vehicle operation requires two full days of hands-on instruction by staff in challenging remote locations.  All personnel were required to complete online training and driving courses.  The course is designed to provide the vehicle operator the knowledge and experience for trailer connection, operations, and maintenance.  Personnel complete twelve hours of driving preparation, skills practice, and written evaluation. This capability offers first responders a rapid response platform to deliver personnel, medical equipment, and patient transport access to remote areas.

The MCFRS and PGFD assigned these assets to various stations.  The police department’s assigned these vehicles to their Special Operations Sections. Each UTV is stored in a weather-protected trailer with supporting supplies for quick deployment. Each department secured funds to allocate support vehicles to tow the trailers, establish facility upgrades for the electrical power source to charge all equipment, and to provide designated interior storage space.  This cooperative arrangement provides the community of Montgomery and Prince George’s County the resources necessary to respond to an emergency incident, even in austere terrain.


Each UTV provides seating to deliver four personnel to the scene of an off road or remote incident.  The frame design allows easy configuration changes for load carry, emergency medical service response, and protected patient transport.  Designed as an off road vehicle, the frame is lightweight, extremely durable, and equipped with a winch capable of moving 3,000 pounds.  Lighting for the vehicle is provided by an energy efficient LED mounted system.  These features provide safety benefits to the rescuers, patients, and bystanders.

The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) is a federally-funded grant program administered by MIEMSS. Please contact Mike McAdams, Planning & Organization Program Manager, at michael.mcadams@maryland.gov for additional information.

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Prince George’s County Police Department Enhances Professional Development by Offering the FBI-LEEDA Trilogy Training Series

For the last several years, the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) collaborated with the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) to enhance PGPD’s leadership training opportunities. Both organizations identified the various courses offered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation-Law Enforcement Executive Development Association (FBI-LEEDA) as a useful opportunity to further educate PGPD supervisors, commanders, and executives.

The mission of FBI-LEEDA is to advance the science and art of law enforcement leadership by promoting the exchange of information to improve law enforcement management practices (FBI-LEEDA, n.d.). PGPD officers participated in a trilogy of courses, which were the Supervisor Leadership Institute, Command Leadership Institute, and Executive Level Institute. Students engaged with senior law enforcement leadership that facilitated instruction during the challenging four-and-a-half-day courses.

All three courses build upon the lessons learned from each respective class to form better law enforcement officers. The leadership concepts covered during classroom discussions include:

  • Police Leadership: This activity introduced students to the characteristics of leadership through supervisory, personal, and professional traits. Students were then led through a self-evaluation of their own leadership qualities and expectations.
  • Supervisory Credibility & Authenticity: Students were challenged to define credibility and how it relates to leadership. Students developed an understanding of the myriad of influences on credibility and leadership from different target groups. A focus was placed on actions, mannerisms, and behaviors essential to establish and maintain credibility.
  • Leading Generations: Supervisors have the potential to lead at least four generations of employees. The characteristics associated with Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z were reviewed to familiarize students with the nuances of leading each generation.
  • Police Leadership in the 21st Century: Introduced students to police strategic leadership concepts appropriate for the 21st Students addressed current U.S. policing strategies and future trends.
  • Bias and Diversity: Students explored the executive’s role in creating a sensitive workplace. Students and instructors discussed how negative bias-based issues can diminish the perception of police service delivery.
  • Future Trends: Students learned about the future of policing by examining demographic shifts, advances in technology, and social shifts emerging in the U.S. requiring law enforcement departments to adapt.

Once students have successfully completed one segment of the series, they can proceed to one of the other courses associated with the trilogy. After completing all three courses, students are recognized as Trilogy Award recipients.

The FBI-LEEDA training series was selected as a unique leadership course opportunity to bolster professional development within PGPD. FBI-LEEDA has furnished PGPD officers with an enriching training series that encompasses all tiers of management, from first-line supervisors to executive-level management. PGPD continues to pursue advantageous opportunities to enhance command officer competency, law enforcement leadership, and professional development. Including FBI-LEEDA supports PGPD’s goal of establishing a well-rounded and sophisticated professional development framework that empowers law enforcement supervisors.

The training course garners positive feedback from PGPD officers, who exhibit receptiveness towards the imparted knowledge. Participants recognize the tangible benefits of acquiring leadership concepts and strategies, which offer practical solutions. Major Charles Magee of PGPD underscores the strategic importance of FBI-LEEDA leadership methods in enhancing the effectiveness of management-level officers.

Prince George’s County Police Department, Major Charles Magee

“From a training perspective, we have recognized the value of the FBI-LEEDA program in developing competent leadership, at every level. The overwhelmingly positive feedback received is a catalyst for our agency’s decision to host the FBI Trilogy series in Prince George’s County this year.”

MDERS remains dedicated to collaborating with our stakeholders to identify and address any training gaps that require support. As a testament to these ongoing efforts, as of Spring 2024, MDERS has supported 81 officers from PGPD in attending the FBI-LEEDA Trilogy Series. This initiative solidifies MDERS’ unwavering commitment to fostering continuous improvement and excellence in law enforcement practices.




Who we are – FBI-LEEDA. FBI-LEEDA. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://fbileeda.org/page/Who_we_are

DARC Deep Dive | MDERS Staff Observe the Advanced Sniper Integration Course

In November of 2023, four Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) Special Operations Division (SOD) personnel attended the Direct-Action Resource Center (DARC) Advanced Sniper Integration course (ASIC) in Little Rock, Arkansas. MDERS has continuously supported DARC training for PGPD stakeholders over the last several years, including the Advanced Operational Breaching Techniques (AOBT) course and levels one and two of the Kinetic Breachers course. The DARC Advanced Sniper Integration training allowed law enforcement stakeholders to practice and enhance their skills individually and as a cohesive unit.

DARC, founded by a former United States Army Green Beret, is situated within a secluded outdoor training site in Arkansas. It offers a diverse array of shooting locations for snipers, notably featuring a 1000-yard range atop a 40-60 ft. platform. During the training, PGPD SOD personnel honed their skills in several advanced areas, including environmental condition adjustments, long-distance night shooting, angle shooting, primary/alternate shooting positions, overwatch and operations techniques, as well as vehicle hide-sight set-up. These skills, along with many others, are poised to enhance PGPD SOD’s operational readiness in addressing a wide spectrum of incidents, including those involving active assailants and barricaded individuals.

The PGPD SOD officers attending the DARC course engaged in a comprehensive training program aimed at seamlessly integrating a proficient sniper/observer team into the support framework for intricate and expansive tactical operations. A sniper/observer team is primarily comprised of four to six officers, all trained to fulfill both sniper and observer roles interchangeably. This six-day course allows snipers to refine their skills across diverse environments, including day and night operations, live-fire support of tactical ground operations, and flat-range operations. The second half of the course coincides with an Advanced Operational Breaching Techniques course, allowing participants to collaborate with another training class during live fire building clearance exercises, as well as interior and exterior explosive breaching scenarios.

Along with the four PGPD SOD personnel, two MDERS representatives, Hannah Thomas, and Elizabeth Adams, had the opportunity to attend and observe the training. Their presence coincided with the latter part of the training, during which the two courses, Advanced Sniper Integration Techniques and Advanced Operational Breaching Techniques, merged and conducted joint exercises. Hannah Thomas, a Senior Emergency Response Specialist with MDERS, recognized how crucial this training was and stated:

Senior Emergency Response Specialist Hannah Thomas

“Participants in this course experienced an unparalleled level of instruction. Witnessing the course content delivered to PGPD officers at  an exceptionally high standard was truly remarkable.”

Emergency Response Specialist Elizabeth Adams

“The training staff and PGPD SOD personnel welcomed MDERS representatives warmly and provided valuable insight into the essential and necessary training they were receiving and how attending DARC ultimately benefits their tactical operations.”

PGPD SOD will continue to receive ongoing support from MDERS to participate in future DARC training sessions, ensuring sustained skill development in alignment with the MDERS strategic plan. DARC remains one of MDERS’s most trusted and superior training providers. With their support, MDERS stakeholders have access to a contingent of subject matter experts to help them refine and enhance their skills in tactics and strategies for sniper operations.

For more information about DARC, please visit https://www.darc-usa.com/courses

MedStar Montgomery Medical Center Tabletop: Initial Response and Unified Command to An Active Assailant

In recent years, medical facilities have experienced an uptick of threats and violent events.[1] Within this increased threat landscape, it is imperative that medical facilities and emergency response agencies jointly prepare for active assailant incidents. The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) facilitated a Tabletop (TTX)-In-A Box with partners from MedStar Montgomery Medical Center (MMMC), Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services (MCFRS), Montgomery County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (OEMHS), and Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD). The exercise was designed to examine the initial actions of each participating entity and their ability to establish a Unified Command (UC) during an active assailant incident. This exercise will help bolster the response capabilities for each discipline to respond to an active assailant incident in a medical setting.

To test each discipline’s response capabilities, participating agencies determined that a discussion based TTX would be the best approach. MDERS’s TTX-In-A-Box program is a systematic, scalable, and economical approach for developing and enhancing critical capabilities that foster interdisciplinary and interjurisdictional collaboration and coordination. The tool consists of a portable kit containing all materials required to run the hybrid exercise. For these exercises, work groups are formed and comprised of subject matter experts (SMEs) from relevant disciplines. In this exercise, the work group consisted of SMEs from MMMC, MCFRS, OEMHS, and MCPD. The work group provided invaluable input to craft a scenario to test the participants’ ability to adequately respond to an active assailant incident occurring in a hospital setting.

Eleven participants served as players during the exercise and were joined by over 45 observers. The exercise was guided by injects from a master scenario exercise list (MSEL) to simulate a realistic, continuous flow of information. Participants had to sift through pertinent and irrelevant information to determine the appropriate response in a dynamic situation. In the early stages of the exercise, each entity was responding within the framework of their discipline-specific policies and plans. As the scenario progressed, the entities formed a UC to make collaborative decisions and delegate tasks to the appropriate agency.

Overall, this exercise produced useful conversations about communication channels between participating agencies, triage care to victims, establishing a unified command, positioning of fire and police staging areas, dissemination of information to the public, reunification processes, reestablishment of healthcare within the facility, and patient movement to other healthcare facilities. These conversations will continue between partners to resolve identified gaps to enhance response operations.

MDERS remains committed to providing ongoing exercise support to our stakeholders in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. These exercises are tailored to bolster response capabilities and fortify the resilience of our communities. Through these ongoing efforts, our goal is to ensure readiness and efficiency in handling emergencies while safeguarding the well-being of our residents.

[1] Glatter, R., & Papadakos, P. (n.d.). The Epidemic of Violence in American Hospitals [Review of The Epidemic of Violence in American Hospitals]. Time.com; Time. Retrieved February 13, 2024, from https://time.com/6337450/the-epidemic-of-violence-in-american-hospitals/.

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.

Enhancing Preparedness Through Innovative Training: Montgomery County Police Department Supervisor’s In-Service Tabletop Series

In a proactive approach to bolster the preparedness capabilities of the Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD), the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) collaborated with MCPD representatives to develop and conduct a series of eight Incident Command System (ICS) refresher training sessions and tabletop exercises (TTXs) from July to October 2023. These sessions, an integral component of the Supervisor’s Annual In-Service training, aimed to evaluate and enhance the ability of MCPD supervisors to employ ICS principles, during the first 30 minutes of a critical incident.

The success of these training sessions was rooted in meticulous planning by a collaborative team consisting of MDERS and MCPD personnel. To ensure the authenticity and effectiveness of these exercises, MCPD representatives selected as subject matter experts (SMEs) participated in the planning and facilitation process. MDERS leveraged the knowledge and experience of MCPD representatives to develop two active assailant scenarios, intentionally designed to escalate in complexity. The development of the master scenario events list (MSEL) drew upon MCPD’s directives, policies, and procedures, including the Active Assailant Emergency Response Protocol, ensuring alignment with real-world scenarios.

The planning team, meeting consistently throughout the spring and summer of 2023, crafted a comprehensive program that included a thirty-minute ICS refresher training followed by a two-and-a-half-hour tabletop exercise. Prior to the first delivery, the planning team, accompanied by additional MDERS and MCPD Training Academy staff, conducted a thorough dry run of the TTX scenarios. This allowed for the identification of any pitfalls in the scenarios or inject delivery, ensuring a seamless and realistic experience for participants.

All eight training sessions took place at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Academy (PSTA) in Gaithersburg, MD. The training series was scheduled to accommodate the shift-work schedules of the 149 participants. MCPD and MDERS intentionally created an open, low stress, no fault environment to encourage meaningful discussions among facilitators and players. Participants were equipped with situation manual (SitMan) slick sheets, props, aerial maps, floorplans, easels, markers, notepads, and writing utensils, which helped foster a comprehensive and immersive learning experience.

The collaborative efforts between MDERS and MCPD in executing these TTXs exemplify a commitment to enhancing the capabilities of law enforcement supervisors, at the sergeant level, in managing incidents effectively. The comprehensive planning, incorporation of subject matter experts, and emphasis on realistic scenarios contribute to a successful training initiative that ensures the preparedness of MCPD supervisors in the face of critical incidents within Montgomery County.

Impacts of AI on Public Safety and the Homeland Security Enterprise | Benefits

Artificial intelligence (AI) continues to revolutionize the world. For as many threats as AI poses, it has the potential to create just as many benefits. This article is the third and final in a three-part series on artificial intelligence from the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) that will explore a few beneficial applications of AI.

Damage Assessments: After Hurricane Ian devastated Florida in 2022, FEMA utilized a machine learning model from aerial imagery to review and assess the magnitude of structural damage to buildings. The AI platform was taught to analyze terrain, compare historical and recent images, and classify damage. This resulted in a reduction of the structures needing review to 77,000 from over a million initially identified as damaged (DHS, 2023). Utilizing AI for damage assessments would ensure a more effective allocation of resources post-disaster.

Cybersecurity: AI can be utilized to detect and even prevent cyber threats to critical infrastructure. Machine learning models can identify abnormal activity and flag it. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) developed the Cyber Sentry program to assist their threat-hunting analysts in monitoring critical infrastructure networks in the U.S. CISA is also utilizing AI to reverse engineer malware, ensuring the U.S. stays up to date on techniques utilized by threat actors and how to counter them (DHS, 2023).

911 Centers: 911 Call Center usage of AI systems has substantially increased in the U.S. AI is being used for a multitude of purposes in these centers to ensure faster response times and more accurate use of emergency resources. AI has also been used to have live, two-way translation for call takers and callers. Callers who do not speak English often face delays in service due to the need to connect with translation services. Additionally, 911 call centers often field non-emergency calls in addition to their 911 duties. Numerous jurisdictions across the U.S.  utilize AI services that answer non-emergency calls and connect callers with the right resources, allowing trained dispatchers to stay available to take emergency calls (Hernandez, 2023).

Advances in AI have the ability to positively contribute to public safety and homeland security. AI can potentially pose significant risks and threats to the world, but it can also enable more efficient, proactive, and responsive solutions to problems.


Hernandez, A. (2023, October 19).  AI moves into overworked 911 centers. Stateline.org https://www.ems1.com/technology/articles/ai-moves-into-overworked-911-centers-nQ0TiXT0robghbfd/

U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2023). Artificial Intelligence Use Case Inventory. U.S. Department of Homeland Security. https://www.dhs.gov/data/AI_inventory


MDERS Staff Provide PATC Training at the USG Campus

In October, the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) led two Public Access Trauma Care (PATC) training events at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG). The trainings provided instruction on identifying severe medical injuries and applying the proper treatment for those injuries. Hosting these training opportunities provided participants with invaluable experience in practicing the basic PATC skills, empowering them to provide immediate aid to an injured victim.

Prior to instruction on medical aid, the course began with an overview of key aspects to consider before rendering care to a victim. First, participants learned how to communicate effectively with 9-1-1 dispatchers by directly calling 9-1-1 or commanding another bystander to do so. Participants were urged to be proactive and not assume someone has already called 9-1-1. Articulating clear information and responding to dispatchers’ questions will help them allocate the appropriate resources to the correct location to respond to the emergency properly. Second, participants learned about the importance of maintaining situational awareness to ensure their safety. Emergency scenes are often dynamic, and threats may evolve as they transpire. If in an emergency, participants were taught to use all their senses to remain vigilant to any factor that could jeopardize their or the victim’s safety.

 The course then transitioned to basic medical education. Participants were taught about indicators of severe blood loss and the ramifications of major, life-threatening bleeding. Potential signs of life-threatening bleeding include but are not limited to blood spurting from the wound, blood pooling on the ground, and clothes soaked with blood. A victim exhibiting any of these symptoms needs immediate medical care.

To treat these significant injuries, participants were instructed about the medical techniques and equipment associated with the PATC program, as detailed below:

  • Direct pressure can be used to treat wounds anywhere on the body. An emergency trauma dressing should be used to provide constant pressure to provide initial hemorrhage control.
  • Tourniquets should be applied to major wounds on the arm or leg. The tourniquet should be placed as high as possible on the injured limb and tightened to ensure that the bleeding stops.
  • Wound packing is used to treat an injury in a junctional area of the body, such as the armpit. Compressed gauze should be formed into a small ball that can be inserted into the wound cavity to help minimize blood loss.

Beyond addressing life-threatening bleeding, course participants learned about early care to treat a pneumothorax. This medical condition occurs when excess air enters the chest cavity, which causes additional pressure on the lung that can lead to shortness of breath and a collapsed lung. A PATC kit contains a chest seal that can be placed over a wound on the chest, torso, or back to limit extra air in the chest cavity.

Lastly, after medical care has been administered, participants were encouraged to place a victim into the recovery position. This helps with a victim’s breathing cycle and is an easy position to cover a victim with a mylar blanket to lessen the risk of hypothermia.

A benefit of this training was it also allowed participants to practice all these skills with all the required medical equipment. MDERS has a training cache with surplus supplies that are identical to the equipment in an individual PATC kit. This allowed participants to get a positive experience with the PATC equipment and be prepared to help a victim suffering from a medical emergency.

Bystander intervention in the immediate aftermath of a major injury is paramount to help prevent a significant medical complication and possibly death. MDERS will continue its outreach to the public for educational opportunities and support our partners with additional training and equipment acquisition to grow the PATC program in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. More information about the PATC program can be found by visiting our website, viewing the PATC training videos on YouTube, or downloading the PATC mobile app. If you have any questions about the PATC program, please contact MDERS at mders.training@maryland.gov.

The success of the PATC program is due in large part to the work of our partners. MDERS would like to thank Michael Wahl and Phillip Tou for their help coordinating the logistics of hosting the PATC trainings at USG. Also, MDERS would like to extend their gratitude to Montgomery County Police Department Sgt. Lyndon Jones for providing his medical expertise to support the PATC program.


Harvard Health. (2017, February 14). Emergencies and first aid – recovery position. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/emergencies-and-first-aid-recovery-position.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, May 21). Pneumothorax. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pneumothorax/symptoms-causes/syc-20350367#:~:text=A%20pneumothorax%20(noo%2Dmoe%2D,a%20portion%20of%20the%20lung.

MDERS Steering Committee Members Convene to Elect New Officers and Showcase Response Capabilities

The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) conducted an in-person Steering Committee meeting to allow stakeholders and staff to reconvene after engaging in numerous virtual forums due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this opportunity, MDERS Steering Committee stakeholders elected new chair officers, reviewed innovation fund proposals, and showcased current response capabilities to attendees.

The MDERS Steering Committee serves as a platform for multidisciplinary stakeholders to share ideas, discuss pertinent topics, and provide recommendations on diverse proposals, with the aim of garnering consensus, raising awareness, and securing approval for distinctive public safety capabilities that enhance emergency response operations. Comprised of inter-jurisdictional leadership from fire/rescue/EMS, law enforcement, emergency management, public health, hospital, and regional/state agencies, these partnerships ensure the enhancement of interoperability in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.

Over the past several years, the MDERS Steering Committee has been guided by Chair, Major Charles Magee of Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) and Vice Chair, Assistant Chief Tracy McDonald of Montgomery County Fire Rescue Service (MCFRS), who provided invaluable structure and profound influence during their four-year tenure in these roles.

MDERS and its partners express sincere gratitude to both individuals for their steadfast dedication in navigating unprecedented times marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, financial adjustments, and abnormal work conditions. With the conclusion of their terms, members of the Steering Committee had the opportunity to elect new officers to fulfill the Chair and Vice Chair roles. MDERS congratulates newly appointed Chair MCFRS Assistant Chief Tracy McDonald and Vice Chair PGPD Sergeant Nicholas Fiore on their election.

Following the conclusion of the election, principal stakeholder agencies provided comprehensive presentations showcasing their recently integrated response capabilities. The presentations aimed to highlight specific functions and procedures that contribute to enhancing public safety operations. Each agency demonstrated how these sophisticated tools, designed for managing incidents of varying scales, play a crucial role in preserving lives, reinforcing coordinated responses, elevating training standards, and enhancing productivity during emergencies. The following is a list of the capabilities presented.

Prince George’s County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (OHS/EM)

  • Community Lifeline Application enables users to obtain real-time incident information on assets, services, and capabilities essential to community needs. The lifeline application created by PG OHS/EM to support Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) gives users access to pertinent topics affecting human health, including safety/security, communication, food/shelter, water systems, energy, and hazardous materials.

Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD)

  • EST Medic LIFEPAK equips tactical medics with the capacity to identify, evaluate, and treat cardiac emergencies. Medics can use the defibrillator to treat unstable cardiac patients and monitor alterations to their vital signs.
  • First Line Supervisors Command Book provides first-line supervisors with the tools and resources to effectively respond to diverse incidents. This guide contains a series of job aids, checklists, and worksheets for high-impact events, including barricaded suspects, bomb threats, active shooters, kidnappings, civil demonstrations, wounded officers, and rescue task force.
  • Public Order Equipment contains full-body protective gear, helmets, and ballistic shields that increase officer safety at the forefront of active violence, mass gatherings, and hazardous materials. When deployed, public order teams wear full body armor covering their legs, arms, torso, and facial area.

Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services (MCDHHS)

  • Medical Resource Officer (MRO) Program provides logistical, medical, and other critical functions to support response efforts to public health crises. The MRO oversees the Medical Reserve Corp (MRC) administration and coordination to reinforce response efforts to public health events.

Montgomery County Fire Rescue Services (MCFRS)

  • PerSim software can simulate various medical emergencies to enhance training opportunities for first responders. Participants wear a headset that produces a 3-D holographic patient overlaid on a training manikin. Participants can initiate and perform medical procedures through the simulated emergency, prompting them to assess the situation and apply life-saving techniques imperative for resolving real-world incidents.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) and Prince George’s County Fire Department (PGFD)

  • Leader Search Bluetooth Listening sensor allows structural collapse teams to listen for trapped victims and detect those in confined spaces to enhance search and rescue efforts during a structural collapse incident.
  • Paratech Rescue Guardian system monitors structural changes to a collapsed building and gathers on-scene intelligence to alert fire personnel of sudden shifts. The system provides instantaneous notification upon sensing building alterations to allow fire personnel to exit the compromised structure before a potential secondary collapse and reevaluate the scene to adjust the device accordingly.

Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD)

  • ICOR Robots contribute to reducing potential threats to officer safety due to the ability to operate from a safe distance and reach vulnerable positions that do not expose officers to hazardous conditions. These robots contain cameras and audio systems that capture on-scene intelligence for decision-making while allowing law enforcement personnel to communicate with individuals.

Holy Cross Hospital

  • Healthcare Capabilities revolve around response and preparedness necessary to support personnel in providing optimal patient care. Hospital systems improved emergency response to active threat events by obtaining a transport truck to mobilize mass casualty incident supplies. The super duty box truck ensures medical cache movement and replenishment of critical supplies to healthcare facilities experiencing an acute surge. In addition, hospitals have enhanced their preparedness for mass casualty incidents associated with hazardous materials through procuring Zumro decontamination shelter systems. These efforts have been imperative to recover quickly from all-hazard events and maintain the quality of medical treatment operations.

Members of the Steering Committee uphold distinctive public safety initiatives that reinforce their overall response procedures, plans, and policies to achieve departmental objectives. MDERS will continue to serve as the single point of collaboration between all disciplines involved in emergency response to integrate capabilities to provide superior service to residents in Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties.

Impacts of AI on Public Safety and the Homeland Security Enterprise | Threats and Challenges

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to change the world for the better, but it is not without risk. The director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Jen Easterly, provided an assessment of AI that recognized it’s potential to be the “most powerful capability of our time” while highlighting its equal potential to be the “most powerful weapon of our time” during a May 2023 security summit at Vanderbilt University (Vasquez, 2023). This characterization of AI by one of the nation’s top cyber experts as not just a weapon, but the “most” powerful weapon of our time speaks to the endless potential for threat actors to utilize AI to harm life and property. This article is the second in a three-part series on artificial intelligence from the Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) that will explore a few emerging threats posed by AI.

Generative AI, a form of narrow AI, is the focus of a large portion of the concern with narrow AI. Narrow AI is any artificial intelligence that has been trained or developed to perform specific tasks or analyses (IBM, 2023). Generative AI is AI that can create numerous forms of content, from images to computer code to human voices. AI created media is commonly referred to as a “deepfake”, and while earlier versions of deepfakes were riddled with errors, as the technology advances, so does the quality of deepfake media. For example, in April of 2023, a song titled, “Heart on My Sleeve” showed up online supposedly written and performed by popular musicians Drake and The Weeknd. The song was so similar to the style and vocals of the two artists that their music label had to make statements that they did not release new songs (Coscarelli, 2023).

The ability of AI to mimic well known voices could be utilized by threat actors to create audio bites of politicians or world leaders (Allen, 2023). ChatGPT, a form of generative AI that was discussed in the previous article, recognizes the concerns homeland security leaders have with AI. When prompted to respond to questions regarding the cybersecurity concerns of AI, ChatGPT provided numerous responses that included recognition of the potential for deepfakes to spread disinformation or even impersonate individuals (Steed, 2023).

Considering the possible concerns that generative AI will be used by threat actors to develop computer code or change existing malware, this capability can generate a damaging impact in the digital realm. During the same summit at Vanderbilt, Easterly also raised concerns that generative AI could provide instructions to terrorists for developing chemical and bioweapons (Steed, 2023).

The advances in AI pose significant risks and threats to numerous fields. Fortunately, there is ongoing research on how to use AI to counter these sophisticated threats to create opportunities for the betterment of society. The next and final article in this series will cover promising beneficial uses for artificial intelligence by the homeland security and public safety industry.

Answer to the Previous Article: The second to last paragraph of the previous article on artificial intelligence was written with the assistance of ChatGPT.


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Coscarelli, J. (2023, April 24). An A.I. Hit of Fake “Drake” and “The Weeknd” Rattles the Music World. New York Timeshttps://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/19/arts/music/ai-drake-the-weeknd-fake.html

IBM. (2023). What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? IBM. https://www.ibm.com/topics/artificial-intelligence

Steed, M. (2023, August 23). Responsible AI: The Solution To Generative AI’s Threats. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesfinancecouncil/2023/08/23/responsible-ai-the-solution-to-generative-ais-threats/?sh=4ccff2e03cac

Vasquez, C. (2023, May 5). Top US cyber official warns AI may be the ‘most powerful weapon of our time.’ CYBERSCOOP. https://cyberscoop.com/easterly-warning-weapons-artificial-intelligence-chatgpt/


PGPD Rescue Task Force Train to Enhance Response Operations for Active Violence Incidents

Over the last year, the Maryland-National Capital Emergency Response System (MDERS) has supported the Prince George’s County Police Department (PGPD) and Prince George’s County Fire Department (PGFD) in their effort to integrate response capabilities for active violence incidents. The cohesion between PGPD and PGFD has created a Rescue Task Force designed to enable medical care to victims near a threat while maintaining a robust security posture. MDERS has supported this initiative with personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders. The totality of this effort will enhance response efforts to active violence incidents in Prince George’s County.

An active violence incident involves an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area (Northwestern University, 2023). These incidents are often dynamic and can evolve rapidly, demanding immediate action from law enforcement and fire/rescue/EMS resources. During an active violence incident, fire/rescue/EMS providers are often faced with the issue of waiting for victims to be extracted from warm and hot zones, prior to beginning medical care. The delay of medical intervention can be fatal for victims confined in these zones.

The urgency to remove and treat victims requires a unified response from law enforcement and fire/rescue/EMS personnel. Nationally, Rescue Task Force (RTF) training has been established to create this unity amongst disciplines to create a cohesive extrication of victims in life-threating circumstances, leading to the Prince George’s County Police and Fire Department recently adopting this practice.

The Rescue Task Force training empowers Prince George’s County first responders in active violence situations by creating realistic scenarios to build structure and confidence. MDERS staff visited PGPD’s state-of-the-art training facility during their police in-service RTF training to observe the session. Establishing command, mitigating threats, and organizing casualty collection points (CCP) are all key components in RTF training and require teamwork from all personnel on scene. MDERS observed the ability of 45 participants, including 10 fire/rescue/EMS present and 35 police officers, in back-to-back scenarios to maintain focus and agility in rescue operations while being met with obstacles and learning to overcome strenuous conditions. The operational coordination that is required to assess the situation and plan for action was proven throughout these exercises by each department.

MDERS Acting Co-Director, and Deputy Director of Finance & Administration, Lauren Collins expressed the following:

  • “I thoroughly enjoyed witnessing the collaborative efforts of Prince George’s County Police and Fire/EMS departments as they joined forces to engage in comprehensive Rescue Task Force (RTF) training. The dedication and substantial investments made by the Maryland Emergency Response System (MDERS) in the RTF program were unmistakably evident throughout this training session, and it was gratifying to see these endeavors manifest into a successful reality.”

In an effort to enhance preparedness, MDERS assisted PGPD with procuring tactical vests and a variety of ballistic protection equipment for PGFD. The acquired ballistic protection allows fire/rescue/EMS personnel the ability to deploy inside warm zones to treat and extract potentially critical patients while protecting providers from injury. Medical supplies can also be attached to tactical vests for easy access to essential medical supplies. The PPE allows first responders to execute their mission more safely in dangerous situations.

Active violence incidents are a growing threat to the Maryland-National Capital Region that involves the interoperability of police, fire, rescue, and EMS personnel to increase the response effectiveness to mass causality incidents. The RTF training is an indispensable resource for Prince George’s County, structuring first responders to work as a unified team.


Active violence: Emergency management – Northwestern University. Active Violence: Emergency Management – Northwestern University. (2023). Retrieved from https://www.northwestern.edu/emergency-management/how-you-can-prepare/active-violence.html#:~:text=An%20active%20violence%20incident%20involves,a%20vehicle%20into%20a%20crowd