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Wednesday, October 5, 2022

FEMA Ready Report: Ensuring First Responders Are Prepared for the Worst

From attacks with chemical agents and biological materials to mass casualty incidents, the nation faces risks that require special response capabilities. FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, Ala., provides that critical training to America’s first responders.

As Superintendent of the CDP, I’m proud of the work we do every day giving first responders the tools they need to help our country prepare for all hazards. As we like to say, “we’re training the best for the worst.” Each year, we provide advanced, all-hazards training to approximately 50,000 federal, state, local, and tribal responders from all 50 states and U.S. territories.

Since 1998, the CDP has trained more than 1.2 million first responders. You likely have CDP graduates in your hometown. The police officer patrolling your highway may be a trained hazardous materials responder, while your night-shift medical team may be trained to work during mass casualty incidents.

At the CDP, learning goes beyond the classroom through interactive hands-on training. Our Noble Training Facility is the country’s only hospital facility dedicated solely to training healthcare professionals in disaster preparedness and response. In addition to classrooms, the facility includes a command center, an emergency department, and both clinical and isolation wards. There, students face complex scenarios that include actors as well as simulators.

Healthcare providers aren’t the only responders with access to immersive experiences at the CDP. Responders from many different disciplines face a wide range of hazards at the CDP’s Advanced Responder Training Complex, which mimics a typical American community with offices, restaurants and other structures to help emergency responders practice in different types of environments.

At the CPD’s Chemical, Ordnance, Biological, and Radiological Training Facility, chemical agents and biological materials are used in exercises to build responders’ confidence in their protective gear as well as their ability to respond effectively to incidents involving these and other hazardous substances. Knowing they’ve successfully trained with toxic materials makes the students better prepared to face future challenges on the job.

The CDP offers an extensive menu of courses online as well as on our campus. Our certified instructors also host classes for first responders in all 50 states.

Responders and jurisdictions ready to enhance their individual or community competencies and resiliency can view our complete library of course offerings at http://cdp.dhs.gov. The individual or community leader should then discuss their desire for CDP training with a supervisor or other approving official.

CDP training is fully funded by the Department of Homeland Security for state, local, tribal and territorial emergency responders. For those training in Anniston, all travel, lodging and meal costs are included.

We want to thank and recognize our graduates who are now prepared for and ready to respond to catastrophic disasters – and we invite more to join their ranks.


Tony Russell
Tony Russell is the Superintendent at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, Ala. As Superintendent, Mr. Russell provides executive level management and leadership for the CDP as it provides unique, hands on training to more than 45,000 emergency responders a year from local, state, and tribal agencies. He is also responsible for operations of the CDP’s 176-acre campus, which is home to the only training facility in the country where civilian responders can train in a toxic agent environment and the nation’s only hospital training facility dedicated solely to preparing the healthcare, public health, and environmental health communities for mass casualty events related to terrorism or natural disasters. Mr. Russell previously served as a Federal Coordinating Officer (FCO) for Region VIII between 2003 and 2009. In addition to his FCO duties, in 2009, he assumed the role of Acting Director of the FEMA Louisiana Recovery Office for Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav, and Ike, with offices throughout the State, including Baton Rouge and New Orleans. In 2009 he was appointed by the President as the FEMA Region VI Regional Administrator and served in that capacity until 2012. Then, in 2014, he was designated as the Acting Region VIII Administrator, serving as the Senior Executive for all FEMA priorities and requirements in the States of Colorado, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming, and Utah. Mr. Russell is an active member of the emergency management community, including the International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM), and he holds the designation of Certified Emergency Manager (CEM).

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