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Local instructors lead incident command training

In any disaster that affects a community, communication is amust – especially when multiple jurisdictions respond to theemergency.

Capt. Dustin Bairfield of the Lincoln County Sheriff’sDepartment and Southwest Mississippi Narcotics Task Force CommanderJohn Douglas are now qualified to teach Incident Command Systems(ICS) classes. With ICS in place, an emergency that involvesmultiple agencies is made easier by standardizing the terms andrank structure.

Local law enforcement officers took the ICS 100, 200 and 700courses on Tuesday through Friday of last week, with Douglas andBairfield as the instructors. This is the second class the two havetaught, but the first of its size, Bairfield said.

“We’ve been working on this for close to a year,” said Bairfieldof the certification. “We did a small class for the Brookhaven FireDepartment a few weeks ago.”

Bairfield said the police and fire academies have mandatory ICScourses now. Therefore, it is the job of ICS trainers to reachveterans who have not taken the courses, as well as otheragencies.

“You’ve got agencies you wouldn’t even think of, likeMississippi Blood Services and the Department of Transportation,for example,” he said. “They need exposure to it too, because in acrisis situation you have to have common terminology to be able tocommunicate your objectives to everyone on the scene.”

Douglas said there are different target audiences for thedifferent levels of the course, from agency officials to firstresponders to elected officials.

“This class is mandated nationally,” said Douglas. “There aredifferent target audiences for different courses that aretaught.”

In reality, the system is one agencies use every day, officialssaid. It’s simply a standardization so that nationally, anyjurisdiction responding to an emergency would be able to fall underone centralized command and understand each other.

“And it’s not just for emergencies,” Douglas said. “Forinstance, if we had a large event like a presidential visit,everyone has to be on the same page for safety’s sake.”

Brookhaven Police Chief Pap Henderson said having Douglas andBairfield be able to teach the ICS courses is a great help to arealaw enforcement.

“We were fortunate to be able to have the class here this year,”he said. “With them being certified as instructors, we can break itdown to four days according to our own schedules and coordinatewith having our men on the streets, too.”

The class took place over four days and fit in 16 hours oftraining for law enforcement officials. Douglas said that not onlyis the training important for everyday use, but it also helpsdepartments obtain grants and other allowances from HomelandSecurity because they are prepared for an emergency situation.

Bairfield said also the system helps because the standardizationof the forms and databases makes certain that local agencies arereimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses in a time of crisis. Forinstance, if officers are sent to another jurisdiction to help inan emergency, their jurisdiction is reimbursed the extra expense ofpaying them and covering their shift while they’re outside theirhome area.

The class also prepares its trainees for if they are sent tohelp somewhere else in crisis.

“If we were in a non-affected area in a situation like Katrina,we could send people and they would have an idea of what to do whenthey get there,” he said, saying that during Katrina, many peoplewere turned away because there was no organization in their arrivaltimes. “This way they know where to go for lodging and food, inaddition to the terms and chain of command. It’s as simple as justbeing able to coordinate when people are being sent and to where,so they’re not all coming in at once.”

Bairfield said the ICS system was used in the drill conductedlast month in which a hazardous materials and hostage crisissituation was simulated. Things flowed extremely well, he said.

“It’s a tool for management to use to help insure effectivecommunication,” he said. “We used it during the drill and it workedgreat.”