LSU-NCBRT utilizes CHDS alumni to strengthen first responder training curriculum

As he seeks instructors and developers for training courses at Louisiana State University’s National Center for Biomedical Research and Training, Jerry Monier has found fertile ground among his fellow alumni from the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security.

As Assistant Director of Research and Development, Monier has enlisted at least a dozen CHDS peers to develop or teach an array of training courses since he began working at NCBRT in 2013. His idea is to transform the academic and professional experiences of CHDS alum  into hands-on training opportunities for first responders to keep the nation safe.

Jerry Monier

“By integrating CHDS alum we can demonstrate a true return on investment that benefits our students and their communities in building response capabilities and capacities ” Monier said. “We have folks from CHDS who have done excellent graduate-level research and have been able to apply their research into curriculum development or classroom instruction.”

NCBRT has been based on LSU’s Main Campus in Baton Rouge since 1998. The center provides 23 training courses at no direct cost to state, local, and tribal communities, funded by the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Training and Education Division. Similar to CHDS, it was initially funded by the former Office of Preparedness Programs under the Department of Justice.

“We’re programmatic cousins to the CHDS program,” Monier said. “A number of DOJ staff who supported the development of NCBRT in 1998 were also instrumental in creating the CHDS program.”

The most recently developed course offering at NCBRT, “Critical Decision Making for Complex Coordinated Attacks,” illustrated the research contributions of CHDS alumni. Tom Monahan, a retired Las Vegas Metro Police Lieutenant, and Joel Justice, Police Chief of the Ventura Community College District whose master’s degree thesis, “Active Shooters: Is Law Enforcement Ready for a Mumbai Attack,” gauged the preparedness for an orchestrated multi-location assault, each contributed to developing the course. Other CHDS alumni, such as Rich Giusti, Robert Allen, and Malcolm Kemp, were members of the course’s development team and worked alongside existing NCBRT instructors and subject matter experts to author the course curriculum. In addition, two instructors also have CHDS ties – -Executive Leaders Program graduate Phil Parr, Federal Coordinating Officer with FEMA, and master’s graduate John Delorio.

Studying with a diverse mix of professions and disciplines at CHDS is an asset to instructing groups that also have varied backgrounds in courses in which interagency integration is critical, Delorio noted.

“The process used at CHDS, the fact there were so many different agencies represented, was very eye opening and a good experience because it shows from a homeland security and emergency management perspective that  you cannot do everything on your own when there is a  significant event, ” Delorio said. “The point I really harp on as an instructor is the integration and coordination that is needed. That comes from my experience, but it was also the way the courses were modeled at CHDS and in its student makeup.”

NCBRT offers an array of topics encompassing the homeland security enterprise, including weapons of mass destruction/CBRNE training , active shooter, law enforcement, criminal intelligence, as well as food-borne and agricultural threats. The diverse professional backgrounds of CHDS graduates corresponds with the wide scope of NCBRT’s course catalog.  Master’s alumni Nick Davidson, Mac Kemp and Jennifer Martin assisted with the Community Health Care Planning and Response for Disasters course, for example, and two other alumni, Delorio and Tom Russo, were selected to serve as part of this course’s instructor cadre.  Another example of leveraging the experiences of CHDS alum with their practical experience is Phoenix Police Lt. William Wickers, who is lending his expertise in assisting with the development a course titled “Fundamentals of Criminal Intelligence.”

When taken together, the CHDS courses are foundational, Wickers noted, and the program as a whole requires a substantial amount of academic effort that the CHDS graduate can rely upon later for course development and instruction.

“The CHDS course work in intelligence, comparative government, social identity, critical infrastructure, psychology and technology are foundational in my course development and teaching,” Wickers said. “CHDS has a tremendous and well-earned reputation in for being academically rigorous which includes the student vetting of instructional sources. This is a CHDS legacy that is carried on by each master’s degree graduate.”

Monier has also employed NPS-CHDS research, especially documents housed in the Homeland Security Digital Library. One of the first steps in course development is to conduct a literature review, and the HSDL contains research from practitioners, a wealth of policy documents and all theses from the NPS. He often refers to his own master’s degree thesis, “Clarifying Resilience in the Context of Homeland Security.”

Monier has even used a thesis written by Folsom (California) Police Chief Cynthia Renaud, “Making Sense in the Edge of Chaos: A Framework for Effective Initial Response Efforts to Large-Scale Incidents,”  in developing courses even though the two have never met.

“We probably use that thesis more than any other,” Monier said. “From a training perspective we are trying to build capability and capacity. Cynthia’s research confirms the existence of a chaotic period of time during the early stages of an incident or event. This is an important acknowledgement to our class participants. How a responder recognizes this and prepares themselves to operate in this period of chaos is an important element to training local, state, and tribal responders”

In addition to academics, CHDS graduates are practitioners in their fields, giving them credibility with students. NCBRT has a roster of about 200 part-time instructors and subject matter experts offering classes categorized as Awareness Level, Performance Level and Management and Planning Level as set forth in FEMA’s National Training and Education Division.

“NCBRT is known for having strong and relevant training curriculum as well as a highly experienced instructor and subject matter expert cadre of professionals who are recognized in their areas of practice,” Monier said. “The inclusion of CHDS alum into our curriculum development processes and classroom delivery partners well with our existing cadre of experienced instructors. The synergy created by this process enhances our ability to better train and prepare local, state, and tribal responders attending our courses.”

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