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Stillwater Scout Troops Participate in FEMA Training

How “Be Prepared” goes further than Scouting

On July 27, 2017, Stillwater Scouts from Troop 9132 and Troop 249 participated in a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) required drill with the Washington County Emergency Management team in Cottage Grove. As part of the drill, the Scouts helped the reception center staff prepare for real world scenarios and learned how to deal with a radiological release emergency.

What is FEMA?

FEMA is a federal agency that was created in 1979, with its mission being: "to prepare for, prevent, and respond to and recover from disasters." FEMA tackles many different types of emergency situations such as natural disasters, radiation and the transportation of hazardous materials, and after September 11, 2001, it became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to help respond to terrorist situations.

They work to make sure citizens are trained and equipped with the skills needed to deal with emergencies of all types. FEMA training goes hand in hand with the Boy Scout motto, "Be Prepared." and even has a similar motto, "A Nation Prepared."

Stillwater Scouts and REP Training

Leaders of the Scout Troops helped set up a way to participate in emergency exercises as a requirement for the BSA Emergency Preparedness Award. The 18 Scouts and their family members who attended the drill worked with the Washington County Emergency Management team and over 100 volunteers from partnering organizations to observe and participate in the Radiological Emergency Preparedness (REP) drill. It teaches citizens how to respond to radiation emergencies, as well as what radiation is, and how to protect themselves from it.

"It's great for the Scouts to learn about these procedures to be more aware of the processes involved in the event of a radiation release," Lee Dhein, the Washington County Specialist in Emergency Management said. "This drill allowed them to see how we respond to these incidents and work together with different agencies from across the county and state."

The Scouts and their families received explanations about what was going to happen and that nobody was going to be exposed to any possible contamination. At the Cottage Grove Reception Center, where the drill occurred, there were FEMA personnel, Cottage Grove Fire and Police Department, MN Department of Human Services, local members of the Medical Reserve Corps, and the American Red Cross, and some of the equipment these organizations use to serve and protect us. "This training showed the Scouts that "Be Prepared." is more than a motto, but a lifelong approach to living safely," Mark Hartmann, Committee Chair for Troop 9132 of Stillwater, said.

About FEMA and REP Training

The REP drill is facilitated annually. There are trainings that are held about 1-2 weeks prior to the drill to prepare staff and participants. Prior to the drill, participants partake in an online training course through the Minnesota DHS website. On the day of the drill, the Emergency Management team presents them with hands-on training to familiarize them with the equipment they use. "The training sessions are about 10% lecture and 90% hands-on. We introduce ourselves and breakdown the plan of action for the day and present the "right to know" information as part of federal regulation. From there, it's all about teaching the participants how to use the equipment and going over safety protocols for radiation levels," Dhein said.

After the training, they put their new skills and knowledge to use at the drill. Being prepared can be key in the event of an emergency, and knowing how to respond is just as important. There are all kinds of tools available for the public on FEMA's website (www.fema.gov) to help prepare for a multitude of disasters.

Interested in Learning More?

If you or your Troop would like to learn more about the Emergency Preparedness Award visit: http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/Media/Publications/EmergencyPreparedness/award.aspx

To find out more about FEMA training or the REP drill, contact Bill Sulinckas, the National Incident Management System (NIMS) Coordinator for the Midwest, at william.sulinckas@fema.dhs.gov or call him at (312) 408-5210.

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Stillwater Scout Troops Participate in FEMA Training

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