Rural Training Courses Help Protect Our Food Supply
Chris Brunner, March 3, 2016
Protecting our food supply was at the forefront of the tabletop exercises conducted at the AWR 151 and 154 courses held in Fellsmere, Florida in late February. The courses were facilitated and taught by Tracey Stevens, UC Davis WIFSS. The training host was the Fellsmere Police Department, organized by Chief Keith Touchberry.
Fellsmere, located in Indian River County on the Atlantic coast of Florida, is a hub to some of the world’s largest food industries, including: B&W Quality Growers, producing watercress, wild rocket arugula, and exclusive red watercress; Fellsmere Farms, raising cattle and citrus; and Florida Organic Aquaculture, a scientifically advanced aquaculture facility marketing Happy Healthy Shrimp.
More than 25 attendees representing police, sheriff’s department, local city managers and planners, industry and public health agencies, were present for the one-day combined AWR 151 and 154 crash course on February 24. These courses are designed to provide a better understanding of the dangers of agroterrorism and the principles of the National Incident Management System (NIMS), team building and risk communication. Discussions and exercises included identifying potential targets and threats, preventative measures, surveillance and security, and ways to enhance community planning.
AWR 151 and 154 are offered by the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium (RDPC), a partner of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium, which is a DHS/FEMA training partner under DHS/FEMA’s Homeland Security National Training Program Cooperative Agreement. WIFSS currently has six Department of Homeland Security certified courses that are offered through the RDPC and aim to train first responders in rural areas of the country for disaster situations that involve or directly affect our food supply system. These day-long courses are taught face-to-face by certified instructors.
The on-site tabletop exercise held for the Fellsmere Community First Responders aided participants in understanding the importance of preplanning to create an effective community response to individual acts of potential terrorism or natural disasters to be better prepared and understand their roles should they respond.
The City of Fellsmere has requested further training by both the RDPC Consortium and WIFSS for further awareness and preparedness for any potential agriculture related disasters.