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Emergency Management 17


Recommendation

The Comptroller’s office will use videos and satellite feed from the Emergency Education Network of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to train Comptroller employees for disaster response, risk assessment, and taxpayer assistance in emergencies.


Summary

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers video and satellite-broadcast training programs for state and local emergency services trainers, disaster operations and emergency services. The training points out exemplary programs and tools for emergency responders, local officials, homeowners and businesses to minimize future disaster losses, as well as how to respond to a wide range of disasters.

The Emergency Education Network (EENET) is FEMA’s satellite-based distance learning system. Every Wednesday, EENET broadcasts public safety training programs to communities across the nation. The broadcasts cover a wide variety of topics. For October 2001, the courses ranged from floodplain mapping to disaster management issues for law enforcement officers, firefighters and state administrators.[1] FEMA offers a wide array of materials and other courses to supplement satellite broadcasts, such as Prevention and Preparedness for Business, Mitigation Information for Businesses, Community and Family Preparedness and Recovery from Disaster: The Local Government Role. These materials are available from FEMA and may also be available through state emergency management offices. Specialized training courses may be requested from state emergency management offices.

Comptroller’s office employees will take relevant courses so they can learn to plan for disaster situations in central or field offices. Courses may also help Comptroller employees to advise local governments and taxpayers to make the necessary preparations for disaster recovery. The employees could aid local officials and businesses that encounter disasters affecting tax collection or related business and government activities.

There are no tuition fees for satellite courses. Satellite receivers in state agencies, Public Broadcasting System television stations, community colleges and universities may receive the video feed. This makes the training available to Comptroller field offices without travel. Since there is no copyright on these training courses the programs may be recorded, copied and shared with others. Comptroller employees will receive credit hours for required agency training.


Fiscal Impact

Satellite programming is open and in the public domain, so no additional costs will be encountered. The Comptroller’s office will need to identify existing satellite resources in other agencies, universities and statewide offices, and make arrangements for staff to attend the broadcasts.


Alternative 1

Satellite broadcasts are one of several ways FEMA provides emergency response training to state and local officials. FEMA provides independent study courses which may be taken by groups, or individuals may connect through the Internet to take a test and receive their completion certificates.

FEMA funds state emergency management offices to provide training to state and local officials. In Texas, the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management, a division of the Texas Department of Public Safety, offers courses. At FEMA’s National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland, state and local officials can participate in week-long training courses.

There are no tuition fees for training at the National Emergency Training Center, satellite courses, independent study, or courses provided by state emergency disaster offices. All instruction, books and housing for the training center courses are free. State and local government officials may apply for a stipend for travel costs related to attending official training activities in Maryland.[2] For the training courses offered by the Texas Division of Emergency Management, there is no tuition.[3]

Comptroller employees could register for independent study courses, attend week-long courses at the National Emergency Training Center, or register for courses conducted by the Division of Emergency Management.


Fiscal Impact For Alternative 1

No additional funding will be needed. Travel costs may be incurred if Comptroller office employees travel to Austin to participate in courses at the Division of Emergency Management. Comptroller employees will receive credit hours for required agency training.


[1] Telephone interview with Kory Gabrielson, training specialist, Federal Emergency Management Agency Region VI, Denton, Texas, October 5, 2001.

[2] Federal Emergency Management Agency, “Costs and Stipends for EMI Courses,” October 2, 2001: http://www.fema.gov/emi/cost/htm.

[3] Texas Department of Safety, Division of Emergency Management, Training Calendar October 2001 – September 2002 (Austin, Texas), p. 4.