IOEM’s May Third Thursday Training Sharpens Response Skills

The Idaho Office of Emergency Management (IOEM) continues to strengthen its preparedness with the monthly Third Thursday Training for the State Emergency Response Team (SERT). These sessions, held monthly, offer critical opportunities for staff to practice their response strategies, tackle challenges, and review procedures to ensure optimal readiness for any emergency or disaster.

For May, the training was spearheaded by IOEM’s SERT Operations team, who crafted realistic and complex scenarios based on the 2017 snowstorms the State of Idaho endured. These scenarios were selected not only for their complexity but also because they provide real-world answers and reflections on past events. The objective was to cross-train IOEM staff, particularly those who have never worked in the response operations section, to enhance their understanding and readiness.

Cross-training is a crucial component in the world of emergency management. By involving IOEM staff from various sections in the Operations scenarios, participants gained invaluable insights into the intricate processes and interactions that occur during a disaster. The Operations section frequently engages with other sections, and this training highlighted the variety of conversations and decisions that take place during an event or incident. This better understanding helps IOEM employees respond more effectively and cohesively during real-world situations.

IOEM staff members also took the time to familiarize themselves with and review the 16 Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) and the roles they play during emergency response. ESFs group state resources and capabilities into functional areas that are most frequently needed during a state response and serve as the primary mechanism for managing state assistance to local governments during emergencies. To make this learning process engaging, staff played a memory game where they matched each ESF’s name and resource to its respective number (e.g., Transportation = ESF 1, Communications = ESF 2, Public Works and Engineering = ESF 3, etc.).

One of the key takeaways from the training was the emphasis on collaboration. Effective emergency response relies heavily on strong relationships and seamless communication. Exercises like these demonstrate the potential setbacks that can occur if any individual or section is excluded from the decision-making process. Ensuring that all team members are informed and involved is essential for a coordinated and successful response.

“I’m so glad the Training and Exercise team has been able to grow and maintain Third Thursday,” shared Emergency Planner, Delanie Edmunds. “It’s hard to believe that we ever went without helping cross-train our fellow coworkers. I feel like everyone has gained a better perspective about what we do as an agency as a result of these training and exercise opportunities.”

As IOEM continues to enhance its emergency preparedness, the Third Thursday Training sessions stand out as a key part of building a strong and knowledgeable emergency response team. By focusing on ongoing improvement and cross-training, IOEM is making sure that Idaho is ready to handle whatever challenges may come our way.