IOEM Staff Attend 2024 National Preparedness Symposium

Five team members of the Idaho Office of Emergency Management (IOEM) traveled to the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, Alabama from May 6-10, 2024, to join over 200 emergency management professionals at FEMA’s 2024 National Preparedness Symposium. Under the theme “Collaborative Preparedness and Resilience: Bridging Gaps Across Jurisdictional Boundaries,” this event focused on cutting-edge strategies for enhancing national resilience, including harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) for emergency response and learning lessons from recent disasters like the Maui wildfires.

During this action-packed week; Training and Exercise Chief, Levi Orr; Training Operations Coordinator, Autumn McMurdie; Training and Exercise Project Manager, Isaiah La Masters; Emergency Planner, Christina Lazar; and Emergency Planner, Delanie Edmunds; took part in a series of discussions and hands-on sessions. They explored the “whole of community” approach to climate resilience, which emphasizes the importance of getting everyone involved—government agencies, businesses, non-profits, and the general public—to tackle climate challenges together. These collaborative discussions are crucial as Idaho looks to bolster its defenses against future climate impacts.

AI in emergency response and preparedness was another hot topic. Attendees looked at how AI can improve predictive capabilities, streamline response efforts, and boost overall efficiency during emergencies. They also explored how AI and be utilized to train responders and emergency managers. While AI offers many benefits, it also presents challenges that need careful consideration.

One highlight of the symposium was the session on the Maui wildfires, which offered a deep dive into the disaster’s response and recovery efforts. The lessons learned from Maui will help IOEM and staff refine its strategies and ensure that Idaho is ready to respond swiftly and effectively to similar incidents.

Beyond these topics, the symposium also covered a wide range of other issues, including understanding and countering evolving security risks posed by nation-state threats, defining and serving underserved communities better by enhancing national standards for emergency management through the National Qualification System. The event also touched up on the guidance for state training officers on National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS) training and explored the impacts of border security on emergency management and healthcare.

The event also provided great networking opportunities, where IOEM team members connected with peers from across the country, sharing best practices and building relationships to strengthen Idaho’s emergency preparedness and response capabilities.

The CDP was established in 1998 and is the nation’s only federally chartered Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) training center. The CDP offers top level hands-on training for America’s emergency responders, covering everything from chemical to radiological threats.