Members of the Exchange Club welcomed Rick Brewer, director of External Affairs at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) at McClellan. He spoke at the Thursday meeting about how important the CDP is to the United States. It operates under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“It is a unique training facility funded by the Department of Homeland Security,” Brewer said.

His invitation was based on one of the club’s main areas to spotlight, America. The other two thrusts of the club are the local community and youth.

Brewer showed a PowerPoint display as he discussed how the CDP is a multiple-discipline training facility for the country’s first responders that began in 1998. Facilities at the CDP include its Headquarters; the Chemical, Ordnance, Biological, and Radiological unit; the Advanced Responder Training Complex; and the Noble Hospital.

As the first-responder students are trained at McClellan, the CDP houses, feeds, and transports them. In addition to 15,000 students who study at the CDP annually, 35,000 students are trained at other locations across the United States to prepare for national emergencies.

To meet the ever-changing training needs of first responders, the CDP has a staff of specialists who prepare curriculum – a task that requires writers to quickly prepare material as new threats arise. For instance, after the Boston Marathon bombing occurred in 2013, the staff wrote training material for students to know more about pressure-cooker bombs.

In addition to the positive impact of training first responders, the CDP brings about $205 million a year in to the local economy. The CDP currently has about 100 federal employees, and there are about 900 contractors who assist in the operation.

One example of the important work done by those at the CDP is the response after the 2017 disasters resulting from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. The CDP deployed 21 personnel to Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, six employees deployed locally to support FEMA’s Personnel Mobilization Center, and 15 personnel operated a Call Center at McClellan and fielded nearly 9,000 calls from survivors of the storms.

“There is continued high demand for CDP training,” Brewer said. “We continually collaborate with Department of Homeland Security partners and other federal agencies on training.”

Questions from members after Brewer’s speech included one asking why FEMA is often criticized after a disaster happens. Brewer said that FEMA often gets “a bad rap,” in spite of helping individuals because, for instance, people don’t have housing insurance.

“FEMA may temporarily care for them and feed them, and give them money for cleanup and certain repairs, but it is a homeowner’s responsibility to have insurance to (completely) replace a house,” Brewer said.

Another question involved the response preparations and training for the current situations in schools by active

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