To better prepare Puerto Rico’s disaster response capabilities, FEMA has created a pilot program that has been providing free trainings since last April to local emergency managers across the island.
This program will help build a solid emergency management team for the Government of Puerto Rico through theoretical and hands-on training following FEMA’s Incident Command System. This system provides an orderly, systematic planning process and uses a common, flexible management structure to effectively handle incident management efforts.
These trainings aim to improve capabilities of Puerto Rico Bureau of Emergency Management and Disaster Administration staff so they can better respond to a wide range of events including hurricanes, earthquakes and floods. Trainings last one to four days.
To date, FEMA instructors have offered 87 trainings to over 2,000 participants. The themes include:
- Planning emergency operations: a review of basic concepts and planning steps to those new to the field of emergency management.
- Debris management planning: how to plan for, respond to and recover from a major debris-generating event.
- Guide to point of distribution: how to manage commodity planning and distribution.
- Threat and hazard identification and risk assessment: how to identify and manage risks associated with human-caused, natural and technological disasters.
Future trainings include American Sign Language courses taught by Movimiento para el Alcance de Vida Independiente, a local nonprofit that promotes independence, equality and empowerment for people with disabilities. This training will be essential in ensuring disaster response workers can communicate and understand the needs of people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
A course called “Train the Trainer” is scheduled to take place later this year and will teach Puerto Rico Bureau of Emergency Management and Disaster Administration staff how to educate other local emergency managers to identify training needs and manage training activities in Puerto Rico.