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Center for Domestic Preparedness 4th Annual Tribal Nations Training Week

by Marshall Cohen, Public Affairs Specialist, IHS Headquarters
Participants in the Center for Domestic Preparedness 4th Annual Tribal Nations Training Week in Anniston, Alabama.

Participants in the Center for Domestic Preparedness 4th Annual Tribal Nations Training Week in Anniston, Alabama.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the 4th Annual Tribal Nations Training Week at the Center for Domestic Preparedness Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  campus in Anniston, Alabama. The CDP is operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving  and their mission is to provide free, fully funded training in disaster preparedness, protection, and response to state, local, tribal and territorial emergency responders, as well as personnel who are affiliated with a tribal nation, the Indian Health Service, or those who work directly with a tribal nation.

The theme of this year’s training week was Strengthening Collaborative Partnerships and it is designed to broaden the training experience of tribal nations to enhance their response capabilities in multiple areas and better prepare communities to respond to emergencies.

“The training courses and scenarios selected for the CDP’s Tribal Nations Training Week are developed via a focus group of tribal emergency responders who visit the CDP during the summer to analyze our training, select courses, and tailor scenarios to meet the challenges and resources which are most relevant for tribes,” said CDP Public Affairs Specialist John Van Winkle.

There were 214 participants enrolled in six different training tracks, representing 46 tribal nations and 45 tribal agencies across 20 different states. Each person I talked to had the same goal for the training week: to learn and bring back knowledge and information that will help their communities prepare for and respond to emergencies.

I spoke to Darlene Begay, a member of the Dine Nation and the IHS Health Promotion/Disease Prevention Coordinator at the Four Corners Regional Health Center in Red Mesa, Arizona, about some of the challenges that her community faces and how they can benefit from this training week. “Most tribal communities are in rural areas, so in a disaster situation our immediate response is going to rely on local resources and community assets,” said Begay. “This training increases our competency and skills in emergency preparedness, response, and recovery. The knowledge learned from the CDP allows us to meet the IHS mission and provide quality health care services to our communities.”

One of the best things about this training week was being able to meet and talk with people from all over the country, all with different backgrounds, perspectives, and work experiences. Sharing information with everyone there and having the knowledge of how to respond to an emergency situation is extremely valuable, especially for tribal nations who may not have many emergency response resources or trainings.

Throughout the week, I participated in courses that provided hands-on training from highly experienced instructors that included learning practical knowledge of the role of a public information officer, emergency communication methods, risk communications, and interpersonal skills. We also learned how to develop an emergency operations plan tailored to a specific local jurisdiction or region, and how to best determine which type of plan would work best for different communities. The week culminated with a practical exercise in which we planned, developed, integrated, and disseminated public information for a disaster scenario as part of a Joint Information Center.

The CDP courses are a valuable tool for employees of all levels, from hospital security staff to tribal emergency response managers, and I would definitely recommend their training to anyone working with a tribal nation or for the Indian Health Service.

For more information on the Center for Domestic Preparedness’ training opportunities for state, local, tribal, and territorial emergency response providers, visit Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving .

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Center for Domestic Preparedness Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving 

Marshall Cohen, Public Affairs Specialist, IHS Headquarters
Marshall Cohen, an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, is a public affairs specialist at the Indian Health Service headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. He received his bachelor's degree in sport and recreation management from James Madison University and started his career with IHS in 2018.