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New Application Helps to Train DHS First Responders

New Application Helps to Train DHS First Responders Homeland Security TodayThe Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) has successfully transitioned the Enhanced Threat and Risk Assessment (ETRA) tablet application so that it can be easily accessed by DHS’ Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC).

ETRA streamlines data entry for calculations, assessments, reports, and briefings. The app provides operational assessments by reducing the likelihood of data entry errors and making it more user friendly. These modifications allow for more accurate and effective training.

First Responders Group Program Manager Darren Wilson explained, “ETRA saves significant time and reduces the potential for errors. It has efficiency impacts all around, not to mention an operational security impact. They can now more efficiently and effectively assess risk both in class and when they return to operations.”

These risk assessments help officers generate more coherent reports and give officials the ability to make decisions that minimize security risks. The training course at FLETC is available to DHS component officers as well as state and local law enforcement. ETRA works with existing Microsoft Excel workbooks to prevent user errors.

Before ETRA, calculations were made using formulas originally accessed via Excel created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s, National Training Program through the Texas A&M University, and the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center. During this time, it was not uncommon for students and operational users to accidently alter or erase needed formulas, which resulted in misleading or incomplete data.

Officers used to devote a significant amount of course time teaching students how to simply fill out these Excel sheets. Human error would prompt them to enter information in the wrong cells, which led to formula failures. They would then take discs with the incorrectly inputted Excel sheets back to their home bases to use operationally.

ETRA operates differently in that it encourages efficiency and effectiveness while conducting the threat and risk assessment task in training and in their operational setting. It also eliminates large quantities of printed material.

Three different facilities are reviewed as part of the new software training course. First, a pre-assessment of the general area they’re in is completed. Then, they are expected to conduct three post-assessments for each facility they view, inputting the relevant information into the new program rather than on the Excel sheets. The final step occurs when the app generates a wall chart which lays out the risk assessment.

The new app is leveraged in all aspects of the course.

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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