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Educational Assistance 4


Recommendation

Texas should increase the number of instructional staff at the Texas Engineering Extension Service’s training program in order to better serve the educational needs of Texas emergency personnel in the areas of terrorism response and preparedness.


Summary

For decades one of the largest providers of training in the country, the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), has developed a variety of public safety training programs, products and services. To improve statewide security, these programs and services should be made more readily available to emergency personnel throughout the state so they can be better prepared to respond to acts of terrorism.[1]

Many TEEX programs are designed to teach how to respond in emergency situations. Some of TEEX’s programs are nationally recognized in terrorism response training circles.

The United States Congress established the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC) in 1997 to become the nation’s premiere training organization in the area of weapons of mass destruction. The Emergency Services Training Institute, a division of TEEX, provides training for NERRTC to emergency personnel around the country. NERRTC also provides training for the Texas Department of Emergency Management, and is the state entity responsible for delivering training courses sponsored by the National Fire Academy in the State of Texas. Moreover, TEEX has extensive contracts with the Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice to provide a variety of response and officer-level training.

Although the original role of TEEX emergency training was fire protection, the agency has developed a multitude of other courses.[2] These programs provide training on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and terrorism and also courses in threat and risk assessment, incident management, leadership development and domestic preparedness.[3] These courses are certified by the State Board of Education. [4]

Terrorism-related training courses are provided statewide to firefighters and other emergency personnel, also known as emergency first responders. Training is conducted at the Emergency Response Training Complex in College Station, at classes presented throughout the state in the evenings and on weekends by extension instructors, and at 70 extension area schools.[5]

Shortage of instructors

TEEX has the national reputation, technical competency and existing state delivery system to reach out and quickly implement terrorism and WMD response training to emergency personnel throughout the state. However, with a staff of only eight instructors, TEEX can respond to less than half of the training requests it receives. Each instructor is responsible for the delivery and coordination of all TEEX-sponsored classes, conferences and area schools. Extension instructors also serve as contacts for Texas Department of Emergency Management Regional Liaison offices in response to natural and man-made disasters throughout the State of Texas.[6]

To satisfy all statewide training requests, the agency requires 12 additional instructors. With the additional qualified instructors, TEEX can begin delivering terrorism response training to Texas emergency personnel almost immediately. Extension instructors would be assigned and stationed in individual regions of the state in which they could promote and better facilitate cooperation among governmental jurisdictions. The instructors would need support materials for students, computers and video projectors, vehicles for transportation, per diem reimbursements while traveling, fuel cost reimbursements, student records and certificates and program support.[7]


Legislative Changes Required

The Legislature could provide additional funding for the Texas Engineering Extension Service, Article III, Higher Education under Goal A. Provide Training, Strategy A.1.1 Public Sector Training.


Fiscal Impact

The estimated cost to the General Revenue Fund to implement this proposal would be $2.24 million in the first year and $1.86 million in following years. This would provide 12 additional employees and the tools they would need to do their jobs.

TEEX should monitor and apply for any current or future federal funding available to pay for or offset the cost of added instructors and training materials. Likewise, if any fees are generated from the programs that these additional instructors teach, they should be used to help offset the costs of the additional instructors and materials. The General Revenue Fund would be the funding mechanism used to fill this need if federal funds are not identified, or if fees are not collected.


[1] Texas Engineering Extension Service, “TEEX: The Agency”: http://teexweb.tamu.edu/teex.cfm?pageid=agency&area=teex&templateid=5.

[2] Memorandum from Dr. G. Kemble Bennett, director, Texas Engineering Extension Service, October 10, 2001.

[3] Dr. G. Kemble Bennett, “National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center Terrorism Program Overview,” presentation before the Homeland Security Task Force, Austin, Texas, October 11, 2001.

[4] Texas Engineering Extension Service, “Browse Course Catalog”: http://teexweb.tamu.edu/teex.cfm?pageid=training&area=teex&templateid=14.

[5] Texas Engineering Extension Service, “ESTI Programs”: http://teexweb.tamu.edu/teex-div.cfm?pageid=ESTIprog&area=ESTI.

[6] Texas Engineering Extension Service, Administrator’s Statement: 77th Regular Session, Agency Submission, Version 1 (Austin, Texas, August 23, 2000).

[7] Memorandum from Dr. G. Kemble Bennett, director, Texas Engineering Extension Service, October 10, 2001.