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In the News: News from March 2017

After-action report gives insight into response

Monday, March 27, 2017

Emergency services teams and their command staff successful mitigated chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive incidents during three-days of homeland security training exercises that tested numerous agencies throughout the region stated third-party reports. But the reports also denoted areas where more training and equipment could further improve regional response to such incidents.

“Training for a disaster is a never ending process where you learn from what you did right and the places where you may have made some mistakes,” said Eric Carter, CAPCOG Homeland Security director. After more than 30 agencies from throughout the region participated in the three-day all-hazards training exercise, called Eastside Mayhem, in November, CAPCOG worked with a contractor to complete an exercise after-action report. The report’s goal was to help identify areas for improvement when performing large-scale training exercises.

> Read about the exercise.

Three after-action reports, one for each day of the exercise, were completed in late February. According to each report, “response agencies were able to successfully support the incident’s needs with an effective and efficient response.” The reports summarized the strengths and improvement areas for responses made during each exercise before providing recommendations about specific topics for training, suggestions on specialized equipment purchases, and the adoption of new procedures to improve response.

> Read the after-action report for day one in Govalle.
> Read the after-action report for day two in Giddings.
> Read the after-action report for day three in Lexington.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Homeland Security Division.

CAPCOG partners to teach a career and technical education program

Monday, March 20, 2017

An emergency telecommunicator career and technical education program at Austin Independent School District’s Akins High School is prepping students for a future in public safety communications, but it is also helping fulfill a need in the emergency response industry. The program has partnered with the Combined Transportation and Emergency Communications Center (CTECC) agencies — Austin-Travis County EMS, Austin Fire Department, Austin Police Department and Travis County Sheriff’s Office — to give students real-life experience in the field, and this year, CAPCOG joined in educating the students.

Kelsey Dean, CAPCOG Public Safety Answering Point Specialist and an emergency telecommunicator trainer, instructs Akins High School students on topics taught to professional emergency telecommunicators.

The program teaches valuable career skills through an apprenticeship or internship style course during the students’ senior year, but it also gives students a career choice to pursue right after graduation, said Carmen Garcia, an Akins High School internship program teacher. CAPCOG is helping ensure the students have the tools they need to enter the field upon graduation by providing guest lecturers such as Kelsey Dean, a CAPCOG Public Safety Answering Point Specialist and emergency telecommunicator instructor. During Dean’s first lecture in February, she instructed shorter versions of emergency telecommunicator training courses and explained how students could show their learning experience on resumes.

The Akins High School’s internship program is awe-inspiring for the students and those teaching it, Dean said. “The students understand the seriousness of this profession. They have a passion for helping people and are excited about the career, which is everything you need to do this job. It makes me hopeful that getting students involved with programs such as this will help tackle turnover issues facing the industry nation-, no world-wide.”

Having CAPCOG participate in the program has provided a unique experience for the students, Garcia said. The students learn a lot shadowing CTECC emergency telecommunicators, but working with CAPCOG has offered them a chance to experience adult professional development. Just like a common practice in CAPCOG emergency telecommunicator courses, the Akins students analyzed real 9-1-1 calls to determine how they could answer them differently, while Dean provided feedback and critiques.

“This type of activity helps develop your radio ear and helps improve your call taking and dispatching abilities,” Dean said. “These are improved communications skills that allow you to hear all the details of a conversation and communicate them properly while judging what is most important. As an emergency telecommunicator if you miss one word, you could send an unprepared officer into a dangerous situation or dispatch a medical team to a wrong address when seconds matter.”

Dean taught the students shortened versions of professional telecommunicator training courses — CAPCOG’s 40-hour licensing course and crisis communications course. The students learned about topics such as basic call taking techniques, stress management, and how to talk to hysterical callers. Dean will teach the students again in April. She plans on running mock 9-1-1 calls and introducing the students to Criticall, one of the nation’s foremost pre-employment exams for emergency telecommunicators. Criticall measures a person’s typing, listening, directional and other skills related to answering 9-1-1 calls.

> Find emergency telecommunicator training.

Region to honor emergency telecommunicators in April

Friday, March 17, 2017

Often considered the first, first responder, 9-1-1 call takers and emergency telecommunicators play a more than vital role in local communities’ public safety operations. CAPCOG, operating as the Capital Area Emergency Communications District, encourages all local governments and the public to join it in recognizing emergency telecommunicators’ dedication to protecting their communities during National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week, April 9-15.

In the ten-county CAPCOG region, more than 700 emergency telecommunicators contributed to the 24/7 9-1-1 operations that answered more than 1.5 million emergency calls in 2016. Their actions helped save lives, arrest criminals, and protect people and their property.

On March 8, the CAPCOG Executive Committee adopted a resolution recognizing National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week. Local governments are welcome to use the resolution as a template to help honor their telecommunicators. To further honor telecommunicators, CAPCOG will visit public safety answering points, or 9-1-1 call centers, between April 9 and April 15 to deliver a special thank you. CAPCOG is proud that many of the local governments in the region traditionally pay tribute to their 9-1-1 call takers with numerous activities such as delivering special meals, hosting teambuilding events, hosting spirit days, and recognizing them during public meetings.

> Read the CAPCOG resolution recognizing April 9-15 as National Public Safety Telecommunicator Week.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Emergency Communicaitons Division.

Air quality survey focuses outreach

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The CAPCOG Regional Services Division in February completed an analysis of three years of surveys that polled the public about their knowledge and commitment to regional air quality. CAPCOG will use the analysis to enhance its public outreach and education campaigns during the ozone action season by directing efforts to demographics that are less informed but are more likely to take action.

The most recently completed survey, conducted from Oct. 22 to Nov. 26, 2016, yielded 710 responses from Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties. CAPCOG made special efforts to ensure adequate representation of younger residents and Spanish-speaking residents during this 2016 sample, since surveys conducted in 2014 and 2015 had not included as many respondents in these groups as represented in the general population. Using three years’ worth data has provided CAPCOG with a larger sample to measure the effectiveness of its public outreach and education campaigns.

> View the 2014-2016 survey analysis.
> Learn more about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.
 

AAACAP seeks communities to host wellness programs

Monday, March 13, 2017

Communities in Round Rock, Austin, and Kingsland are hosting evidence based intervention (EBI) programs managed by Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area (AAACAP) that benefit the mental, physical and emotional health of older adults and their caregivers. The agency is seeking more communities throughout the CAPCOG region to host additional programs in 2017.

EBIs facilitated by AAACAP, a CAPCOG division, equip older adults and caregivers with the tools and knowledge to maintain and manage their health so they can live as independently as possible. AAACAP offers four different programs that can be hosted anywhere: A Matter of Balance focuses on reducing the risk of falling, Stress-Busting for Family Caregivers teaches stress management for caregivers of Alzheimer’s and chronic disease patients, and Chronic Disease Self-Management helps adults manage the symptoms of chronic diseases or can specifically be tailored to people with Type 2 diabetes. The programs run from six to nine weeks, are conducted for small groups between 8 to 15 people, and can be led by CAPCOG or community members who volunteer to become program lay leaders.

> Learn more about each EBI program.
> Schedule a program by contacting Kate Gibbons, CAPCOG health and wellness coordinator.
> Learn more about AAACAP.

CAPCOG offers criminal justice professionals training

Thursday, March 09, 2017

CAPCOG will host two training workshops in April for criminal justice professionals that focus on helping victims and understanding teen drug use. The workshops are geared toward professions such as court judges, peace officers, victim advocates, and even school educators, so they can improve their understanding of the criminal justice process and further help prevent crimes throughout the region.

The first of the two workshops — “Victim Impact Statement: The Victim’s Voice in the Criminal Justice Process” — will educate its attendees about ensuring victims are heard during all stages of the criminal justice process. Topics to be discussed in the workshop include the important role of the Victim Impact Statement, criminal justice entities’ statutory responsibilities for the statement, revisions to statement forms and statistical reporting. Texas Department of Criminal Justice Victim Services Division instructors will teach the workshop from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., April 3. Continuing education units will be offered for several criminal justice professions.

> Learn more about or register for The Victim's Voice workshop.

"Drug Facts: Building awareness of substance use, misuse and dependence among teens" will be the second criminal justice workshop and will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., April 21. Geared towards professions that deal with teens, the workshop will teach an enhanced understanding of substance use, misuse, and dependence. Representatives from the Prairie View A&M University’s Texas Juvenile Crime Prevention Center will lead the workshop and will offer continuing education units for various professional groups.

> Learn more about the Drug Facts workshop.
> Register for the Drug Facts workshop.

> Read more about the Planning and Economic Development Division.

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