There are four phases of emergency readiness: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Having a plan for each reduces the harmful effects natural disasters and other accidents can have on a community. 

These concepts are part of a training curriculum that S&K Engineering and Research, LLC (SKER) and Salish Kootenai College (SKC) are updating under a contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA in turn offers the courses to American Indian and Alaska Native tribes to help them create and carry out Emergency Management Plans for their communities.

SKER and SKC are updating three educational courses. This includes revising course content, student manuals, resource guides, and instructor guides. New exercises and multimedia aids like videos are also being created.

Program Manager Adrienne Bibby describes her experience working on this project, “This work has been interesting and I’m enjoying learning about tribes all over the country. I’ve learned more about tribal living and Emergency Management. Being prepared can help the tribes protect their land in spite of the impacts of climate change.”

Each month, the courses are hosted online and in-person at the FEMA Training Center located in Emmitsburg, MD. The three updated courses will be offered starting in March 2021. These instructor-led courses are each four days long and free to attend for all tribal members. Attendees learn how to network with other tribes and apply online for Emergency Management grants. For instance, if a tribal nation has issues with flooding in their geographic region, they can apply for a grant related to water mitigation.

SKC has a long history designing courses for FEMA. Lead Subject Matter Expert for this project, Greg Gould, helped design the original FEMA courses in the early 2000s. Gould explains why he likes working on Emergency Management courses, “The thing I enjoy most about developing educational materials for our tribes is the joy of helping build a resilient community.”

The courses are designed to improve emergency responsiveness regardless of hazard, size, or complexity. Students are given tools to help their tribal communities better protect their citizens, lands, culture, and sovereignty.

The FEMA employees that administer this contract are committed to helping build resilient communities. “FEMA has been providing tribal specific emergency management training at the Emergency Management Institute for the last 18 years,” said Gould. “This project continues that effort and takes it into the next generation of tribal emergency managers.”

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