RALEIGH, N.C. - Everyone gets test anxiety. It gets worse when they check on how to save thousands of lives and billions of dollars.
North Carolina Army and Air National Guard experts gathered for Emergency Management Staff Train the Trainer certification at the NCNG’s Fort Fisher Training Site at Kure Beach, N.C., Sept. 23–25, 2013.
The trainer program is a virtual world with customizable disaster plans. Each student learns how to make a scenario to test and prepare NCNG leaders for real-world disasters. They modify one of more than 25 templates with variables unique to state needs.
“It takes at least 100 hours of work building a scenario from scratch into an afternoon of work,” said Chelsea Treboniak, the owner of Critical Ops that provides support and instruction on the program.
They take unit strength, training, equipment, current events and other information to create an up-to-date exercise. Simulated emails, news reports and orders from civilian leaders test the Guard’s response to crisis.
Each student is qualified to train individuals and staff on disaster response from the local unit to state headquarters.
"It validates the plan and allows for rehearsals at all levels," Army Master Sgt. Robert Baker, NCNG JFHQ plans and exercises noncommissioned officer in Charge.
After the classroom training, the students got to inflict a hurricane on senior NCNG leaders at an exercise at NCNG Joint Force Headquarters in Raleigh, N.C., Sept. 26.
Several senior NCNG leaders stared into their computer screens in the Joint Operations Center in the basement of NCNG Headquarters.
The simulator feeds reports, requests for assistance, higher headquarters orders including directives from the governor of North Carolina. Time-critical decisions are made and coordinated with nearly 9,000 soldiers and airmen deployed for hurricane duty in the exercise.
“We (the NCNG) are the ready, reliable force for North Carolina and we have to stay current,” said Army Capt. Danny Fitzpatrick, NCNG deputy joint training and exercises officer.
Previous disaster readiness exercises took months of preparations, extensive travel and planning. Now leaders can plan for the unthinkable and get instant feedback from peers at much less cost.