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Amherst College, Amherst, MA

8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Space has become available in the upcoming Active Threat Integrative Response Course (ATIRC) WRHSAC is hosting in January, 2020. Registration to this course was previously open by invitation only, however not all seats were filled, so the course is now open to the region.

ATIRC is a rescue task force training. It is a 24-hour performance level course taught by the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training of Louisiana State University designed to improve integration between law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services (EMS) in active shooter events in warm zone/rescue task force operations.

The course is specifically for law enforcement and ems/fire. It consists of classroom training and field drills. This course is physically demanding. You must be able to run, bend, lift and carry. Please consider your physical ability to participate in several days of activity.

This free, three-day training will be held on Wednesday through Friday, January 8 – 10, 2020 at Amherst College, Amherst, MA. Anticipated time is 8am to 5pm.

There are approximately 11 seats available for law enforcement and 8 for ems/fire. Registration will be accepted on a first come, first serve basis. You must be able to attend all three days. Registration is required.

Food (continental breakfast & lunch) will be provided.

We hope you can join us for this unique and valuable training experience.

Actors are also needed on day 3 of the training, Friday, January 10th. If you (or someone you know) are interested in the training, but can’t attend all three days, being an actor will provide you with an interesting perspective of the training. Actors can be from any first responder discipline. To register as an actor or for more information, please click here. Civilians over the age of 18 are also allowed to be actors.

To learn more about this training view this video & photo story of WRHSAC’s previous offering of this training.

Registration is required for the training.

The class is full. Thank you for your interest.

UMass Amherst Campus, Amherst MA

8:00 am to 4:30 pm

Enhancing Response, Protecting Dignity: Disability Tips and Tools for First Responders Conference

First responders sometimes face unpredictable challenges when assisting people with disabilities. Awareness, education, and training are needed to prepare responders to meet these challenges. There are currently no national standards in place for mandated training; different states and different jurisdictions have widely varying requirements. Unfortunately, many jurisdictions that do insist on in-depth training for first responders today do so because something went terribly wrong in the past.

The Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council (WRHSAC) has been working with planners, first responders, and direct care providers over the last year to learn about issues and gaps related to responding to people with disabilities, those who suffer from addiction, and those who have other additional assistance needs. Research, surveys, and interviews were conducted to assess the status of available training and resources for first responders, and to develop a comprehensive picture of what additional resources are needed to support first responders in the optimal care of people with disabilities.

This unique conference is the culmination of this work and will provide first responders with tools and training to enhance their work with people with disabilities.  Registration is required. 

The conference will be held on at UMass Amherst on Wednesday, December 11, 2019. It is free and food will be provided.

The morning plenary sessions are designed to raise awareness and provide new insights. 

David Whalen, founder of First Responders Disability Awareness Training – the premier training program for first responders to best serve and respond to people with disabilities, is the conference keynote speaker. David has worked in the disability field his entire career. He is passionate about ensuring first responders have the best training available to provide services to people with a disability that enhance response and protect the dignity of the individual.

WRHSAC will also introduce the Tips for First Responders web-based tool. The Tips Tool is an accessible, quick, rich in content tool enabling first responders to readily find information and tips to enhance response. Topics covered include mobility impairment, cognitive disabilities, deaf/hard of hearing, blind/visually impaired, mental illness, autism and more. The tool is accessible via smartphones, computers or download.

The Pittsfield Police Department and the Brien Center of Berkshire County will be present to speak about the Embedded Mental Health Counselor program. This exciting approach pairs law enforcement and a mental health professional in the field to more immediately and effectively address the needs of persons experiencing mental health or emotional crisis.

In the afternoon, a condensed version of the First Responder Disability Awareness Training will be provided. This training is delivered in breakout sessions specific to disciplines. The training both sensitizes and educates first responders with the intent to effectively identify, address and respond to various disabilities they will encounter in their line of duty.

An afternoon breakout session will be held for each of the following disciplines: Law Enforcement, Fire/EMS, Dispatchers, and EMDs.

Course description:

  • Law Enforcement – The ability to respond to individuals with disabilities has posed varying challenges to officers across the country and high-profile cases have exposed the need for more involved awareness and education. As the population increases and more individuals are active in the community, the need to ensure accurate and appropriate response is critical. The Recognition-Identification-Approach-Interaction-Response Model will be introduced and exemplified in select disabilities.
  • Firefighter/EMS – While recognizing each discipline has unique roles in emergency response, the combined program will address outreach, fire safety planning, disabilities defined specific to fire, rescue, and medical needs. Communication barriers, means of egress, and other challenges will be discussed in line with the Recognition-Identification-Approach-Interaction-Response Model.
  • 9-1-1 Telecommunicators/Dispatcher – Being the first to respond, the telecommunicator can initiate a positive response if educated in disability awareness and provided the proper tools and resources. The presentation will introduce the three components within this content; understanding and response to speech disabilities, awareness of how disabilities present, and interface with first responders to address a positive outcome. The Americans with Disabilities Act, general effective communication and relay services will also be presented.
  • Emergency Management Director – Including people with disabilities and access and functional needs in emergency preparedness. Considerations include ADA compliance, breakdown of lawsuits to NYC, LA, and Oakland, accessibility/universal design, FEMA identified model, national advocacy organizations, and inclusive planning and active participation.

The conference is free and food will be provided.

5 Hours of OEMS credit is approved for this training.

Registration has closed for this event.

Please direct any questions to Raine Brown ( or Rachel Mason (

Chicopee Public Safety Complex, 110 Church Street, Chicopee, MA

8:30 am to 4:30 pm

When disaster strikes, it can be a challenge to effectively mobilize, organize, and deploy resources needed to perform wide-area searches. This course is an excellent training opportunity for any jurisdiction or agency that may face such an emergency. The course content applies to a vast number of critical situations, including natural disasters or terrorist incidents.

Participants will learn practical search methods and skills to perform systematic searches over a large affected area. The training will include challenging exercises that mirror real-life scenarios. The three-day long event will conclude with an in-depth exercise that requires participants to utilize the skills gained during the course by working through an incident from start to finish in a single operational period.

The training is taught by experienced instructors from TEEX Extension Services who have actively utilized wide-area search techniques during some of the nation’s largest and most challenging operations, such as Hurricanes Katrina, Ike, Gustav, and Rita; the Space Shuttle Columbia recovery operation; and many other incidents that required the same comprehensive strategies.

The training is free and food will be provided.

Registration for this course is closed. Any questions can be directed to Raine Brown, Homeland Security Program Manager.

Hadley Farms Meeting House, Hadley, MA

8:00 am to 4:30 pm

The Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council (WRHSAC) in partnership with the Western Mass Emergency Medical Services Committee, Inc. (WMEMS) are hosting Line of Duty Death: Preparing the Best for the Worst Training. This training is facilitated by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF) and is part of their Certificate of Specialized Training Program.

One of the toughest situations to face is the Line of Duty Death (LODD). The administrative & logistical aspects of a LODD are often overwhelming to those agencies that are ill-prepared. This course will address many of those issues as well as give special attention to pre-incident planning and proper follow-up services.

This interactive class has been designed to prepare Emergency Service providers, Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) Teams, school administrators, municipal officials and military personnel.

This is a two-day training, Wednesday and Thursday, November 13 & 14, 2019, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. You must be able to attend both, full days of the training to receive credit.

The training is free and food will be provided. OEMS credits are pending.

The training location is Hadley Farms Meeting House, Hadley Massachusetts.

Members of the Western Massachusetts Critical Incident Stress Management Team (CISM) have first priority for registration to this training through Thursday, October 10, 2019. Registration will then be open to First Responder, Municipal, Military and School Administrator leadership in Western Massachusetts. (CISM members may still register after October 10, but seating will not be held specifically for them after that date). 

Please complete the form below to indicate your interest in attending the training. All will be placed on a waitlist. You will be notified by email of your registration status. Please indicate under “agency” if you are a member of Western Mass CISM


MEMA, Region 3/4, 1002 Suffield Street, Agawam, MA

8:00 am to 4:30 pm

Chainsaw operations on a normal day can be dangerous. When trees are bent, snapped, or tangled in piles of debris because of a weather incident, hazards are increased significantly. With the frequency of tornados and hurricanes affecting western Massachusetts in recent years, highway crews and firefighters are being called on more and more to clear debris from roads. Chainsaw safety skills are essential to first responder safety during debris management response.

This training series consists of two training modules: Chainsaw Skills & Safety and After the Storm.

In 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 After the Storm training.

In After the Storm, students will build on the skills learned in the chainsaw skills & safety class. Additionally, students will learn techniques to relieve pressure commonly found in storm-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. The training is free and food will be provided.

Two separate sessions of Chainsaw Skills & Safety will be held. The first session will be held on Monday & Tuesday, September 9 & 10, 2019 at MEMA, Agawam. The second session will be held in Southampton, MA on yet to be determined days (likely October).

One session of After the Storm will be held on a yet to be determined date.

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

This training is full. 

Complete the form below if you’d like to be placed on the waitlist. Thank you for your interest!

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The Red Barn at Hampshire College

8:30 am to 4:30 pm

The Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council (WRHSAC) presents Inner Resilience for First Responders: Mindfulness and Wellbeing for the Front Lines Training.

First responders are exposed to critical incidents and chronic stressors that contribute to a higher prevalence of negative health outcomes compared to other occupations.

Psychological resilience, a learnable process of positive adaptation to stress, has been identified as a protective factor against the negative impact of burnout. This experiential training will provide first responders with practices and understanding to help foster their own personal resilience to reduce the negative effects of chronic stress and trauma. This resilience can reduce burnout and improve health including a stronger immune system, improved cardiovascular health, improved sleep and increased attention and focus.

Mindfulness builds resiliency, strengthens awareness and cultivates compassion. First Responders benefit from these attributes on the job and in their personal lives. This experiential workshop will provide first responders with concrete mindfulness practices and proven evidence of the benefits.

The efficacy of meditation and other mindfulness practice have been studied extensively over the last decade and more. Studies show a regular mindfulness practice can:

    • increase resilience
    • increase emotional regulation
    • enhance attention & focus
    • increase alertness
    • reduce the effects of stress
    • alleviate depression & anxiety
    • improve sleep
    • enhance decision making & more

This training is developed and facilitated by Raine Brown. Raine is a certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher in addition to her position as Homeland Security Program Manager for WRHSAC. This unique combination of skill sets allows Raine to bring the valuable practices of mindfulness to first responders in a way that is accessible and meaningful.

This training is full. Please complete the form below to be placed on the waitlist.

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Highlights of Chainsaw Safety Debris Management Training

In Spring of 2019, WRHSAC hosted a Debris Management Chainsaw Safety Training series. The training taught first responders chainsaw safety skills and special skills to use when clearing debris following natural disasters and other storms. The photostory below provides some highlights from the training. Look for another round of this training in the fall.

Thank you, again, to Public Safety Multimedia for documenting another successful WRHSAC Training.


Chainsaw Safety

The Carriage House, Eastern States Exposition

8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Have you ever considered the steps you’ll need to take to safely & efficiently re-unite children & families who may be separated by an emergency incident at your large planned event or venue?

What about the group of teenagers strolling down the midway? How will you manage their parents who rush to your venue after receiving a text from their child about being in a potentially dangerous incident at your location?

This training will prepare participants to reunite children and their caregivers following emergency incidents at large special events or venues.

This training is appropriate for Emergency Managers, Safety Directors, Law Enforcement, Municipal Officials and others involved in planning and hosting large events such as fairs, parades or festivals, or large venue managers and owners, such as colleges, universities, concert venues, casinos, theaters, etc.

Pre-registration is required (complete the form below).

The training will be held at The Carriage House at Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, MA. The training will begin promptly at 8:30 am, with on-site sign-in beginning at 8:00 am.

The I Love U Guys Foundation will facilitate the training, adapting their Standard Response Protocol developed for family reunifications following an emergency incident in schools to the large event/venue setting. The WRHSAC Family Reunification Plan Template will be incorporated into the training. Copies will be provided to participants.

The training is free and a continental breakfast and buffet lunch will be provided.

Thank you to all who attended this training.

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


8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Swift River Gun Club, Belchertown, MA

Officer Down Rescue Instructor Training is a 24-hour performance level course designed to give participants the ability to teach fellow colleagues a variety of techniques, skills and tactics which can be employed to rescue oneself, another first responder or civilian in an active threat environment. Participants will learn self-aid, buddy-aid, live-fire rescue, assorted drags and carries, wound management and more. 

This training is open to police, ems and fire first responders from the four counties of western MASS (Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire & Hampden). Priority will be given to those needing to renew certification.

This training is physically demanding requiring lifting, running and the ability to work in tight spaces. Participants should self-assess their capacity to meet these demands.

The training is free and food will be provided.

The training location is the Swift River Gun Club in Belchertown, MA. Training dates are Monday through Wednesday, June 10 – 12, 2019. Attendance at all three days is required to receive a certificate.

OEMS credits will be available.

The training is full. Complete the form below if you’d like to be added to the waitlist.

Please complete the form below:

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8:00 am to 5:00 pm

The Boylston Rooms, Easthampton, MA

Response calls are escalating in complexity.  An every-day, ordinary call can suddenly become a multi-discipline, multi-agency response, filled with unknown and life-threatening hazards for first responders & the public. First responders need to quickly identify when an incident requires enhanced, specialty response and increased safety procedures.

The Emerging Threats Training 2019 will utilize case-studies, response-call after actions, multi-discipline presentations and equipment demonstrations to raise first responder awareness regarding the complex incidents they may face and the assistance and specialized support available to effectively respond and recover from these incidents.

Topics to be covered include, but are not limited to: Clandestine labs found in drug production and explosives; Disaster Medicine; Street Drugs trafficking & responder safety; Technical Rescue;  Specialty Team Embedded Medics; and Human Trafficking.

This training is appropriate for all first responder disciplines. The training is free and food will be provided.

The training location is The Boylston Rooms, Pleasant Street, Easthampton, MA.

7.5 OEMS credits are available for this training.

Registration for this training is closed