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Center for Domestic Preparedness Spotlights A-State Grad Student


JONESBORO — Holli Werner, a graduate student at Arkansas State University, was recently singled out in a student spotlight while attending a hands-on training session at the Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston, Alabama. Werner is a member of the Craighead County A-State Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

“The ability for our students to go to the CDP and participate in hands-on-training is critical to their career development,” said Dr. Deborah Persell, director of the Regional Center for Disaster Preparedness Education. “In addition to academic credit they receive training certificates that employers look for. And, it gives the students confidence that they are able to apply classroom skills to actual incidents.”

Werner, who resides in Brookland and plans to graduate in the summer of 2015, attended a course at the CDP called Technical Emergency Response Training (TERT). The TERT course provides direction to a collection of emergency responders who may become involved in a accidental or manmade mass casualty incident.

“Not many people have this opportunity,” Werner said. “I think the training makes me better educated and prepared for how to handle chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives (CBRNE) incidents. It helps my decision making. The trainers at the CDP are highly qualified in specific subject areas. I am so grateful to our DPEM program and the CDP for this opportunity.”  

The TERT course includes a widespread hands-on training experience that challenges emergency response providers. The training features CBRNE hazards that could be used in all emergency incidents.

Werner noted that the group was involved with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) situations, working with Sarin, VX and anthrax. Sarin and VX are deadly nerve agents and Anthrax is a bacterium usually associated with infected animals or contaminated animal products.

“We are being placed in the most realistic scenarios possible,” continued Werner. “This is the closest to the real thing I can imagine. The course makes us better prepared and we have better expectations for what the real event may be like versus what you read in a book.

“I am getting a more focused, detailed training experience with hands-on training. Hands-on is irreplaceable.”

Werner intends to pursue her career goal of working in disaster preparedness and emergency management. She says the training has balanced her degree program by putting the academia into practice.

“I feel like being here this week gives me a head start in my response and disaster management career. I hope to have more opportunities to return to the CDP for additional training.”

Through a partnership with the CDP, Arkansas State has included CDP training in its disaster management curriculum.

Arkansas State offers degrees in disaster preparedness and emergency management; healthcare emergency management; and homeland security and disaster preparedness. For additional information, contact Persell at (870) 680-8286 or through email at dpersell@astate.edu.