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First Responder Mental Health Resilience Conference October 2022

The Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council is proud to offer our inaugural First Responder Mental Health Resilience Conference.

Join us for this exciting virtual experience which will provide leading-edge approaches to foster mental health resilience in first responders. Every Thursday in October (6, 13, 20 & 27) 2022 from 10:00am to 2:30pm.

Each day includes a featured subject matter expert speaker and practical and applicable skills workshops specifically tailored for first responders.

Registration will open in late summer 2022.
Click here to sign up to receive notice when registration opens.

Tentative Line Up 
(We are finalizing all the details)

Day 1 – Thursday October 6, 2022 10:00am to 2:15pm

10:00am – 10:15am Opening Address: Lt. Col. Tom Grady, Berkshire County Sheriff’s Office, WRHSAC

10:15am – 11:15am Featured Speaker: Dr. Stephen Porges
Title: Polyvagal Theory Applied to Mental Health

Join the conversation with Dr. Porges and a panel of local first responders to understand the Polyvagal Theory and how our nervous systems impact our responses to the environment.  By understanding the Polyvagal Theory, we can go from states of shutdown or mobilization to a state of safety and connection. We will discuss psychological stress injury, injury prevention, and the potential for healing and integration.

11:30am – 12:30pm Skills Workshop #1: Deb Dana, LCSW
Title:   Polyvagal Theory in Practice

Guided by Polyvagal Theory, we have a deep appreciation of the ways experience shapes the nervous system and of the pathways that lead to healing. With an updated map of the autonomic circuits that underlie behaviors and beliefs, we have a new understanding of the patterns of fight, flight, and shut down and can reliably move out of adaptive survival responses into the autonomically regulated state of safety that is necessary for wellbeing. In this presentation we’ll explore how to use the body’s regulating circuits to regain a sense of safety and skills to engage the nervous system’s natural pathways to regulation.

1:00pm – 2:00pm Skills Workshop #2: Stephanie d’Angelo
Title:   Be the Calm in the Storm: Polyvagal-Informed Embodied Mindfulness (PIEM)

Be the Calm in the Storm: Polyvagal-Informed Embodied Mindfulness (PIEM) Real-Time Stress Survival Skills. Aren’t we all just seeking peace in a chaotic world? I began my career as a caseworker for social services and a newlywed to a police officer. We learned quickly how ill-prepared we were to handle the amount of stress and trauma surrounding us every day. I had some skills, but not what was needed. I realized without these physiological Stress Survival Skills, we get sick, we break down or become so disengaged from the things and people that used to make us feel happy. Something had to change. So, I spent most of the past thirty years cultivating skills, learning, and teaching how to be the calm in the storm no matter what is happening in the moment. These practices restore foundational stability and yes, even bring joy back into your life!

DAY 2 Thursday October 13, 2022 10:00am to 2:30pm

10:00am-10:15am Opening Address: Chief Jennifer Gundersen, South Hadley Police

10:15am -11:15am Featured Speaker: Dr. Robert Macy
Title: The Traumascape and Trauma Informed Approaches to Toxic Stress Reduction and Compassion Care

Disaster response is difficult work. Frequently, the people who are doing this work are also impacted by the crisis at hand. This reality increases the need for disaster response workers to (1) understand, develop and sustain psychological capital and (2) to be trained in and practice toxic stress reduction protocols and compassion care programs as a means of professional development, competence and a reflection of the values that Emergency Response Teams wish to uphold. Our discussion will help us identify and assess major stressors in the workplace, explore how they can impact an organization, and discuss methods of managing and diminishing unnecessary toxic stress chemical production from our everyday lives.

11:30am – 1:00pm Skills Workshop #1: Dr. Robert Macy
Title: Toxic Stress Chemical Reduction Tool Kits

This seminar is very interactive and informative. Participants will gain skills to bring into their workplace and personal lives to practice stress reduction and increase a sense of competency and health. We will explore approaches to daily stress perception techniques and the utilization of pulse-breath-mindfulness work to build custom stress reduction tool kits.

1:30pm – 2:30pm Skills Workshop #2: RISE Kripalu, Sam Chase
Title:   Keeping the Body in Mind: Embodied Tools for Resilience

As a first responder, how you train your attention to assess your surroundings has huge consequences in critical moments where milliseconds make a difference. But we don’t often dedicate the same time and training to paying attention to what’s going on inside. Scientists call this interoception – a literal ‘sixth sense’ that attunes us to what’s happening within the body. Recent research connects the skill of interoception to our capacity for resilience, suggesting that our ability tune into what’s inside impacts our ability handle what’s going on around us. In this workshop, we’ll explore several evidence-based exercises for building interoception and sharpening your inner attention. These tools integrate easily into the rhythms of the day, so that the time you invest inside will leave you ready, responsive and resilient in the moments that matter most.

DAY 3 Thursday October 20, 2022 10:00am to 2:30pm

10:00am – 10:15am Opening Address: Bruce Arbor, Fire Services Chaplin

10:15am-11:15am Featured Speaker: Rollin McCraty, Ph.D.
Title: Maintaining your Composure in the Midst of Chaos and Confusion

This presentation will discuss a practical framework of resilience and the importance of learning and practicing energy self-regulation techniques. Practices shown to dramatically impact first responders’ ability to maintain inner poise, composure, and clarity, even in rapidly changing, complex and chaotic environments. Dr. McCraty will provide an overview of new research on the physiology of optimal performance and a measurable state called “physiological coherence” and how this optimal state increases cognitive performance, health, and well-being.

11:30am – 12:30pm Skills Workshop #1: Police Chief Jen Hart
Title:   Creating Calm in Chaos

The work we do is rewarding and meaningful, but it is also physically and emotionally taxing. Daily, we face challenging, dangerous, and draining situations. We are impacted by limited resources, uncertainty, and constant change. If unmanaged, this operational stress can diminish our performance, deplete our energy, and erode our wellbeing. As the demands of our jobs continue to increase, learning to build and sustain resilience is more vital than ever.

In this skills workshop, you will learn practical tools to manage your energy, diminish the harmful impacts of operational stress and increase your personal resilience. HeartMath’s research-based tools are designed to help you reduce energy drains and restore calm so you can maintain balance and composure, even in the face of chaos and adversity.

1:00pm – 2:30pm Skills Workshop #2:  Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock, Senior Vice-President and Director of Shay Moral Injury Center
Title:   Recognizing and Addressing Moral Distress and Moral Injury in First Responders

This workshop will provide information about conditions that put first responders at risk of experiencing moral distress that, when unaddressed, can intensify into moral injury. The workshop will cover the relationship between them and how to recognize them, as well as strategies that support recovery from them. It will include a demonstration of an online, small group, peer-facilitated program for first responders offered by Volunteers of America, Resilience Strength Time (VOA|ReST), designed to mitigate moral distress and forestall or lessen the intensity of moral injury.

DAY 4 Thursday October 27, 2022, 10:00am to 2:00pm

10:00am – 10:15am Opening Address: Chief Michael Wynn, Pittsfield Police Department

10:15am -11:15am Featured Speaker: Tom Greenhalph
Title:   Peer Support and Emerging Sciences: Blending the New with the Traditional for Enhanced Wellness and Resiliency

Peer support has existed for decades. Research over that time has shown it to be very useful in helping with life challenges. Emerging sciences such as neuroplasticity show how the brain can change in ways once not thought possible. In this presentation we will explore some of these emerging sciences and how they relate and can be integrated into peer support, with a goal of enhancing wellness and resiliency

11:30am – 12:30pm Skills Workshop #1:  Tom Greenhalph
Title:  Enhancing My Personal and Professional Skills for Enhanced Wellness and Resiliency

Very often caretakers spend all their time taking care of others, often at the expense of themselves. “I don’t have time for that” is often heard when someone is asked what they do for themselves. Not recharging their personal battery, caretakers often pay a significant price in terms of their own health, wellness and resiliency, but also deliver services to others that may not be at a level they perceive it to be.

Attendees of this workshop will explore a self-reflection and evaluation as to where they may stand in terms of how well they are doing in terms of self-care, suggestions for improvement, and tools they can carry forward to those that they serve.

1:00pm – 2:00pm Skills Workshop #2: Robin Carnes
Title: Healthy Sleep: Your #1 Resilience Skill

At a time when more people than ever suffer with sleep issues, the latest science reveals just how essential quality sleep is for every aspect of our mental and physical health. First Responders face elevated risks for sleep problems due to the nature of the jobs they do in service to their communities.

In this workshop you will: be briefed on the latest findings on the essential functions of sleep, learn the underlying cause of most common sleep dysfunctions, and learn how to address common sleep problems through simple lifestyle changes and mind-body practices.

The heart of the workshop will be experiencing a variety of evidence-based practices to support and enhance your sleep, including a guided iRest meditation designed specifically for sleep. Participants will come away with practical materials and recorded practices to improve this essential function of human life.

Complete this form to receive updates and notification when registration opens.



10:30am to 11:30am Consecutive Thursdays in July 2022

Frontline personnel are regularly encountering people who present as hostile or readily escalate to hostile with minimal stimulus.

This training series will provide:

  • De-escalation techniques
  • Strategies to prevent disruption
  • Strategies to manage challenging group dynamics
  • Techniques to support frontline personnel dealing with hostility and aggression and more

The series will be held virtually on consecutive Thursdays throughout July 2022. The series is free. Registration is required.

Update July 1, 2022 – Registration for Workshops 1 & 2 is closed. We still have some seats in Workshop 3.

Please complete the form below.

  1. Workshop #1 – Working with Challenging One-on-one Frontline Interactions
    Thursday, July 14, 2022, 10:30 – 11:30am via Zoom 

 Proposed audience: People on the front lines, at front desks/reception, first on scene, etc. who deal with individuals initially refusing to respect policies or guidelines, expressing some degree of hostility or aggression, demanding immediate responses, etc.

 Objectives: Introduce approaches to de-escalation; identify and practice key de-escalation techniques.

  1. Workshop #2 – Working in Challenging Group/Community Settings
    Thursday, July 21, 2022, 10:30 – 11:30am via Zoom 

Proposed audience: People organizing group meetings or events, people potentially dealing with multiple challenging interactions with irritated/aggressive people simultaneously

Objectives: Introduce techniques for designing and facilitating meetings or events to prevent disruption; discuss approaches to handling challenging group dynamics.


  1. Workshop #3 – Supporting Others Dealing with Challenging Dynamics
    Thursday, July 28, 2022, 10:30 – 11:30am via Zoom

Proposed audience: Both people who want to support peers/colleagues dealing with challenging interactions, and people who can impact workplace structures, processes and culture

Objectives: Introduce techniques for third-party intervention to support peers or colleagues dealing with hostility or aggression; explore ways our businesses/organizations/institutions can support front-line workers dealing with challenges.

These sessions are applicable to first responders, municipal officials, hospital personnel, front-line and essential workers, and supervisors. Please share this training with your colleagues, supervisors, staff and others who may be interested.

Please complete the following form to register. You may register for one, two or all of the sessions. A link to participate will be provided to you in a confirmation email.

Update July 1, 2022 – Workshops 1 and 2 are full – complete the form below to register for Workshop 3.

Select the session/s you'd like to attend(Required)
Choose one, two or all

Castle of Knights, 1599 Memorial Drive, Chicopee, May

8:30am to 5:00pm

The Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council (WRHSAC) and the Western Mass Fire Chiefs Association (WMFCA) are hosting a 3-day Fire Officer Advanced Tactics and Strategies Training Program on Monday through Wednesday, May 16 through 18, 2022 in Chicopee, MA. The program will be facilitated by Nick Martin from Combat Ready Fire Training – an instructor many fire officer may be familiar with from his presentations at the Fire Chiefs of Massachusetts annual conference. The three days of trainings are as follows:

The training is free. Lunch will be provided. You may attend either one or both of Day One and Day Two. Participation in Day One or Day Two is a prerequisite to attend Day Three.

Registration is required. Complete the form below to register. 

Day One

First Alarm Strategy and Tactics

– Monday, May 16, 8:30 am to 5:00pm

This training will focus on the decisions made by fire officers the first hours of firefighting at the most common building types. The facilitator will draw from real world experience to detail fireground proven strategies and tactics for fires in single-family dwellings, multiple-family dwellings, and commercial buildings. Tactical options for the most common fire scenarios will be reviewed. Decision making models for rapidly selecting the most appropriate engine and truck company operations will be presented. The information in this interactive program will be appropriate for both new and veteran fire officers and will facilitate better and more rapid decision making to stop a fire and save lives.

Topics include:

  • Setting up for success
  • Incident size-up
  • Modern fire behavior
  • Risk assessment
  • Strategy determination
  • Engine Company Tactics
  • Ladder Company Tactics
  • Rapid intervention operations
  • Single family dwelling fire tactics
  • Multi-family dwelling fire tactics
  • Commercial fire tactics
  • Defensive fire strategies
  • Post incident analysis and learning

Day Two

Aggressive Command supports Aggressive Firefighting

, Tuesday, May 17

Balanced incident command systems are hard to come by. Cumbersome command practices that allow a building to burn down while command is “setup” are as frustrating and problematic as the lack of any strong direction and organization.

Departments must avoid impractical command practices that slow or hamper putting the fire out but must also avoid a lack of strong command that fails to organize the incident and aggressively deploy crews to solve the problem.  This program discusses best practices incident commanders can use to maximize the capabilities of their firefighting forces.

This topic will be for chief and company officers. A strong understanding of each other’s jobs and a mutual respect are key to any incident’s success. This training will serve as a forum for chiefs and officers to discuss and learn about each other’s roles, the jobs of each within the command system and practices that make each more successful, both as individuals and as a team.

Students will be taught a methodical process that can be used to manage incidents properly and aggressively. The training includes the following components: Aggressive Command Mindset; Pre-Incident Musts for Success; and Strong Command for Strong Firefighting.

Day Three – This session is full. Complete the form below to be added to the waitlist. 

Interactive Command Simulations

Wednesday, May 18

Students will be provided with scenarios to integrate command post and officer operations at a fire incident. Students will be able to incorporate concepts and learning from the previous days training. Simulations will range in complexity from single alarm house fire to multi-alarm fires. 

Registration for this training is closed. Thank you for your interest. 


8:30am to 4:30pm

Many fire departments may not be prepared to respond to the challenges presented by large commercial vehicle accidents, such as a tractor trailer or tanker rollover. The amount of equipment and personnel necessary to handle these types of accidents could easily overwhelm a department.

Stabilizing, lifting and capturing are three vital components associated with a successful rescue operation when dealing with a confirmed vehicle pin. Remove any one of these, and the results could be disastrous for the victim and rescuers.

Vehicle Stabilization and Lift Training for First Responders will help participants to understand the risks inherent in a vehicle rollover and pinning, and provide the skills to be able to lay out a plan of response and implement it.

The training is free. It is a two day training. Registration is required – see below.

The objective of this training is to build a solid operational foundation based on the three aspects of lifting (stabilization, lifting, & capturing) and tie them together to insure a positive outcome. Students will learn methods to facilitate occupant extrication, without putting first responders at risk.

The training focus will be hands on learning, leading the students through rotations to simulate real life scenarios involving motor vehicles, construction equipment, and big rigs.  Classroom style orientation will introduce concepts and equipment on the morning of the first day. The class will then proceed to hands on learning for the remaining day and a half. The two-day training will afford students ample tool time using high pressure airbags, hydraulic jacks, hydraulic rescue tools, Res-q-Jacks, Struts, Griphoists, chain & binders and more.

Departments who are primary responders to the Interstate 91 Corridor will be given priority for this training. Others will be waitlisted and notified if space is available. The training is limited to 32 students.

The training will be held in Northampton on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 19 and 20, 2022, 8:30am to 4:30pm. It is a 2-day training. You must be able to attend both days.

Registration for this training is closed. Thank you for your interest.  


Tactical Emergency Casualty Care Training

UPDATE April 19, 2022 – Both sessions of this class are full and the waitlist is at capacity. Thank you for your interest. 

WRHSAC is providing two sessions of 2-day Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) training in western Mass. Registration is required. See below. the training is free.

Developed by NAEMT’s Prehospital Trauma Life Support (PHTLS) Committee, the TECC program is based on the guidelines from the Committee on Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (Co-TECC) and the Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) program. TECC uses lessons learned from our military and applies them to the civilian world of tactical medicine.

This 16-hour course covers topics designed to decrease preventable death in the tactical situation.  Topics include: Hemorrhage control; surgical airway control and needle decompression; strategies for treating wounded responders in threatening environments; caring for pediatric patients; and techniques for dragging and carrying victims to safety.

At the core of the TECC program are three distinct phases that have been well-proven by TCCC-trained personnel in the war against terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan. The phases are as follows:

  • Direct Threat Care
    Care that is rendered while under attack or in adverse conditions.
  • Indirect Threat Care
    Care that is rendered while the threat has been suppressed, but may resurface at any point.
  • Evacuation
    Care that is rendered while the casualty is being evacuated from the incident site.

TECC is recommended by NFPA 3000 and focuses on the medicine during these phases of care and provides guidelines for managing trauma in the civilian tactical or hazardous environment. While TECC has a tactical slant, it takes an all-hazards approach to providing care outside the normal operating conditions of most EMS agencies, such as responding to a mass casualty or active shooter event.

Registration is required for this training. Priority is being given to medic members of Special Response Teams in the region.

For a limited time, registration is only open to SRT members. Registration will be open to all medical first responders on April 4, 2022. SRT members may register after this date if space is available, however space will not be guaranteed.

As course space allows, the training will be open to EMS and other medical first responders.

16 hours of CAPCE credit is approved for this activity to all levels of provider.

Two sessions of the two-day training are being held. You must be able to attend both complete days of the training.

Training dates and locations:

  • May 23 and 24, 2022 Monday and Tuesday, 8:30am to 5:00pm, Turners Falls, MA.
  • June 9 and 10, 2022, Thursday and Friday, 8:30am to 5:00pm, Southwick, MA.

The training is free and lunch will be provided. 

UPDATE April 19, 2022 – Both sessions of this class are full and the waitlist is at capacity. Thank you for your interest. 


For All Municipal Departments

This workshop series will assist municipalities in taking immediate actions to address IT and cybersecurity needs and will also help guide the formation, policy, and procedures of possible future regionalized IT and cybersecurity solutions.

You may attend one, some or all of the following virtual workshops. A link to register for each individual session is included in the workshop description below. The workshops will be recorded and available for viewing at a later date – however – attending the live workshops is strongly encouraged for direct engagement with the facilitators and guest speakers.

The workshops will be conducted by Novus Insight, a firm specializing in providing IT and cybersecurity solutions to municipalities.


Workshop 1:  Positioning Technology & Cybersecurity as a Strategic Imperative

Target Audience: Executive Leadership, Selectboard Members

Session 1 – Support and Planning

Tuesday, September 14, 2021. 9am-10:30am.

Registration link:

  • Myth-busting – “Tech is overhead.” No, it’s not.
  • Why secure technology is the foundation of modern government services
  • Solving the budget problem starts with cultivating buy-in
    • How to talk tech without talking tech
    • How to (more) confidently sell stakeholders and constituents on the need for tech & cyber budgeting
  • Creating strategic plans that are supported by technology

Session 2 – Internal Change Management

Thursday, September 30, 2021. 1pm-2:30pm.

Registration link:

  • Breaking old habits – creating a culture to support change
  • Incorporating policy & procedure development and incident response planning into municipal budgets
  • Creating more of a culture of cybersecurity

Workshop 2:  Best Practices in IT/Cybersecurity Policies and Procedures Workshop

Target Audience: Executive Leadership, IT Personnel

Session 1 – Overview of a Cybersecurity Program

Thursday, October 14th, 2021. 9am-10:30am.

Registration link:

  • Understanding the important distinctions and interrelationship between policies, procedures, guidelines, and standards
  • Relevance — How does my cybersecurity program relate to and impact the day-to-day operations of the municipality?
  • Components of a cybersecurity program and the importance of each

Session 2 – Building a Cybersecurity Program

Tuesday, October 26th, 1pm-2:30pm

Registration link:

  • Templates that will get you started
    • Using the templates to drive other components of your overall IT program such as backup and recovery, incident response, and IT asset management
  • The role of executive leadership
  • Regulatory requirements
  • Making the program understandable and relevant to all — employees, board and commission members, external parties, the public


Workshop 3:  Incident Response Planning Workshop

Target Audience: Executive Leadership, IT Personnel, Emergency Operations & Critical Infrastructure (i.e. WPC)

Session 1 – Introduction of the cyber incident response plan template and implementation checklist tool

Wednesday, November 3, 2021. 9am-10:30am.

Registration link:

  • Identifying and understanding the municipality’s key information assets and the risk of them being breached or removed
    • Novus will provide an asset inventory worksheet for collecting and categorizing assets
  • Identifying whether assets are within your control or a third party’s, or if it is a shared responsibility
  • Understanding your in-house capabilities vs. need for external expertise/resources
  • How to assemble an incident response team

Session 2 – Implementing an IRP and addressing tool implementation barriers and /questions

Wednesday, November 17, 2021. 1pm-2:30pm

Registration link:

  • Preparing a tailored Incident Response Plan including:
    • Guidelines for who to inform when data is breached or exposed
    • Establishing the severity of a breach and the level of response required
  • How your IRP should fit within your business continuity and disaster recovery strategies
  • How to test your incident response plan

* Each participant will leave with a set of materials and templates allowing them to custom tailor their plan.

Workshop 4:  Security and Compliance Workshop

Target Audience: Executive Leadership, Any departments dealing with sensitive information (i.e. Police, Fire, HR)

Thursday, December 2, 2021. 9am-11am.

Registration link:

  • Most common sensitive data types in a municipality
    • PII
    • PHI (the 2 things needed with data for it to be considered PHI and regulated by HIPAA)
    • FERPA
    • CJIS
    • PCI
  • Identifying sensitive data in your environment
  • Strategies for protecting sensitive data and end user education
  • When all else fails, there’s insurance. An overview of cyber insurance and what’s included.
  • FOIA, record retention, and e-discovery
  • Baseline standards and best practices for a security and compliance program

Workshop 5:  State IT/Cybersecurity Efforts and Resources Workshop

Target Audience: Executive Leadership, IT Personnel

Thursday, December 16, 2021. 9am-10:30am.

Registration link:

  • Overview of Massachusetts-specific municipal IT and security resources

Presentations by representatives from state agencies, MIIA, and potentially federal resources

No August Meetings

WRHSAC and its subcommittees are taking the month of August off. There are no meetings.

The regular meeting schedule will resume in September. Pan Flu Planning subcommittee will meet on Tuesday, September 7. WRHSAC, Training & Exercise Subcommittee and WMRIC will meet on Tuesday, September 21. Watch the calendar for meeting agendas and information. All meetings will be virtual.

Lanesborough and Erving, MA

All the sessions are full. Thank you for your interest in the training. 

Chainsaw safety skills are essential to first responder safety during critical incident response. Chainsaw operations on a normal day can be dangerous. According to the CDC approximately 36,000 people are treated in hospital emergency departments for injuries from using chain saws. When trees are bent over or snapped in half it significantly increases the difficulty of removing them. Following a terrorist incident, first responders may be called on to clear and maintain critical transportation routes which are crucial to delivery of response personnel, equipment and services. The routes are crucial to support supply chain management. When downed trees block transportation routes, first responders are called upon to clear routes with chainsaws.

This training series consists of two training modules: Basic Chainsaw Skills & Safety and Advanced Skills.

In Basic Chainsaw Skills & Safety, students will learn about basic safety equipment and PPE, a saw’s reactive forces, chain tooth parts, and practice felling, notching, hinging and other cutting techniques and calculations. This is a two-day, 16-hour course. Students must attend both complete days. The training is physically demanding, a morning of classroom learning on the first day, followed by field work in the afternoon and full in-field day on Day 2. Students must self assess their ability to meet these demands. This course is a pre-requisite for Advanced Skills training.

In Advanced Skills, students will build on the skills learned in the chainsaw skills & safety class. Additionally, students will learn techniques to relieve pressure commonly found in incident-damaged trees. Topics include hazards, spring poles, hangers and leaners, pulls and splits and others. This is a one-day, 8-hour training. Only students who have completed the Chainsaw Skills & Safety class are eligible. This training is physically demanding, all day in the field. Students must self-assess their ability to meet course demands.

This training is appropriate for Highway, Department of Public Works and Fire Personnel, and other first responders who may be called upon to use chainsaws in the line of duty.

The training is free. Lunch will be provided. Registration is required (see form below). Pandemic safety protocols will be followed.

Multiple sessions of Basic Chainsaw Skills & Safety will be held as follows:

  • Saturday and Sunday, August 14 and 15, 2021, Lanesborough, MA
  • Thursday and Friday, September 9 and 10, 2021, Lanesborough, MA
  • Monday and Tuesday, October 4 and 5, 2021, Erving, MA and
  • Monday and Tuesday, October 25 and 26, Erving, MA


All the sessions are full. Thank you for your interest in the training. 

Two sessions of the Advanced Skills training will be held as follows:

  • Thursday, September 23, 2021, Lanesborough, MA and
  • Tuesday, November 16, 2021, Erving, MA

 You must have successfully completed Chainsaw Skills and Safety in order to register for this class. The option to register for the Advanced class will be included in your email confirmation when you sign up for the Basic Skills class.

All questions can be directed to Raine Brown, Homeland Security Program Manager,, 413.774.3167 x138



Williamstown June 19 and Southampton June 25

9 am to 4 pm

Is your department ready for an equine or large animal emergency?

If you witness a horse emergency such as a trailer accident, a horse down in a stall, trapped in a ditch, or in a fire in a stable, would you know how to respond?

Whether you are a public safety official, a first responder, or technical rescue responder, this course is essential to prepare you for an equine emergency.  In this one day course, you’ll learn proper handling techniques and get practical hands-on experience through conducting rescue scenarios using a training mannequin, Lucky the horse.  By the end of the course, you will be able to move large animals safely and quickly in cases of disaster or injury, while preventing potential injuries to the humans involved.  The course offers classroom instruction and hands-on scenarios using our specialized equipment as well as equipment that may be readily available to first responder departments.

The training is taught by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA). The training is free and lunch will be provided.

WRHSAC is offering two sessions of the training:

  • Saturday, June 19th in Williamstown, MA 9am – 4pm (registration for this session is closed) or
  • Friday, June 25th in Southampton, MA 9am – 4pm

COVID-19 protocols will be followed. Please wear a mask.

About the MSPCA’s Equine Safety & Rescue Training Program

As the national authority on equine emergency response and rescue, we travel thousands of miles annually to train first responders, veterinarians, humane organizations, and public safety officials in rescue and transportation.

With our innovative rescue equipment, including the Original Rescue Glide® and our horse mannequin Lucky, we conduct hands-on workshops for professionals throughout North America. With the wealth of experience that comes from performing hundreds of real-life rescues, MSPCA staff is able to re-create scenarios that may occur when handling horses and other large animals.

The MSPCA’s expertise in the field of equine rescue has been crucial in the start-up of over two dozen equine ambulance programs throughout the country. As a non-profit agency that is dedicated to the protection of horses everywhere, the MSPCA lends its knowledge and experience to humane organizations, state animal response teams, and others who wish to create similar ambulance programs to serve their communities. WRHSAC is pleased to host MSPCA in delivery this quality training and thanks the State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team (SMART) for their assistance in coordinating the training and locations.

The training is free.

Registration is required.

The training is full and registration is closed. Thank you for your interest.


COVID Vaccine Information Sessions

The Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council (WRHSAC) and the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) sponsored a COVID vaccine information session. The session provided potential Massachusetts Phase One vaccine recipients and providers with information regarding the vaccine/s function, efficacy, developmental history, ongoing research, possible side effects, and more. The session discussed common misconceptions of the vaccines and provided ample time for questions and answers to improve vaccine comprehension and confidence. It helped local police, fire, and public health to be better educated about the vaccine and help them be messengers to the public and their constituencies.

The session was developed and will be facilitated by Dr. Michele Keane-Moore, Senior Lecturer of The Department of Physical and Biological Sciences at Western New England University. Dr. Keane-Moore currently teaches, and has previously conducted research, in immunology and infectious disease. Dr. Keane-Moore also was a reviewer with the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research and is familiar with the regulatory process being used to evaluate these vaccine candidates. She has also served on Baystate Medical Center’s Institutional Review Board that oversees clinical research for over fifteen years. Dr. Keane-Moore received her doctorate in immunology and infectious disease from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The intended audience was people identified as vaccine recipients in Massachusetts’ Phase One vaccine distribution timeline. This Phase One timeline includes the following groups, in order:

  • Clinical and non-clinical healthcare workers doing direct and COVID-facing care
  • Long term care facilities, rest homes and assisted living facilities
  • Police, Fire and Emergency Medical Services
  • Congregate care settings (including corrections and shelters)
  • Home-based healthcare workers
  • Healthcare workers doing non-COVID-facing care

Multiple virtual offerings were held. One session was recorded and is available below.


One more live, virtual session will be held on Wednesday, December 30, 2:00pm t0 3:00pm (EST)

Click here to register for Wednesday, Dec 30 at 2:00pm