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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 (

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

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

UMass Amherst Campus, Amherst MA

8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Drawing on lessons learned by the University of Florida, this conference will inform participants on actions needed for a unified response composed of university, local, state, and federal partners when a known controversial speaker or event comes to campus.


In October of 2017, a controversial speaker rented a venue on the University of Florida campus requiring a significant, unified response from university, local, state and federal agencies. The event precipitated a state emergency declaration, mutual aid support from agencies throughout the state and national media attention. As a result of high levels of preparation, coordination and luck, the day passed without incident. Learn how officials planned for and managed this event as well as lessons learned.

Emergency Management, Police, and Student Engagement of the University of Florida, along with Florida Highway Patrol, will share their experience & insight of preparing for a large scale event where passion and politics are raised, safety & security capacities are challenged, and media attention is heightened.

Key takeaways:

  • Prepare, and then prepare more.
  • Coordinate communications through a central funnel.
  • Identify a single spokesperson before, during and after the event.
  • Develop messages based on your values.
  • Create and maintain a dedicated website about Free Speech rather than creating about the event or using your homepage.
  • It takes a team.
  • Bring together your communications resources across campus and keep them informed.
  • Define clear roles for everyone who is helping.
  • Get ready for the media frenzy.
  • Be able to act quickly.
  • Be prepared to take the criticism.
  • Commit to supporting each other, especially during the chaos.
  • It’s not over when it’s over – it’s our history to write, not the speaker’s.


This conference is open to emergency management, law enforcement and administrators of colleges and universities in Massachusetts, and local, state and federal emergency management, law enforcement, fire and EMS. Due to the sensitive nature of information shared attendance is limited to these disciplines. All registrants will be placed on a waitlist and will be notified via email of acceptance. Thank you for your understanding.

The conference will be held at UMass Amherst on Thursday, January 10, 2019. The conference is free and food will be provided. Sign-in and continental breakfast will begin at 7:00 am. Welcoming remarks will begin at 8:00 am.

REGISTRATION is CLOSED for this event.


UMass Amherst Campus, Amherst MA

8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Preparing and protecting a municipal or organization’s computer system from cyber-attacks can seem overwhelming and daunting. Many agencies end up doing nothing because they don’t know where to begin.

In this Cybersecurity Preparedness Conference, attendees will learn the following:

  • Demystify Cybersecurity
  • Effective Information Sharing Methods
  • Critical Security Controls that can readily be applied to any system or network
  • Emerging Cyber Threats and how to prepare
  • Steps to take if you experience a cyber-attack/incident
  • Explore regional municipal solutions
  • Current and future cybersecurity efforts at the local, state and federal level

Presenters include cybersecurity experts from the following state and federal agencies:

  • Commonwealth Fusion Center
  • Massachusetts State Police
  • Department of Homeland Security
  • Advanced Cyber Security Center
  • Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency
  • Mass Cyber Center
  • Massachusetts Executive Office of Technology Services & Security
  • Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety & Security

This conference is appropriate for municipal officials, first responders, colleges, universities, State and Federal partners, private and public sector organizations and more.

The conference will be held at UMass Amherst on Wednesday, December 5th. The conference is free and food will be provided. Sign-in and continental breakfast will begin at 7:30 am. Welcoming remarks will begin at 8:30 am.


Active Threat Integrative Response Training Photo Story

In June, the Western Region Homeland Security Council in partnership with the Massachusetts Emergency Managment Agency and the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security hosted the Active Threat Integrative Response Course which is taught by the National Center of Biomedical Research and Training of Louisiana State University. The training focuses on Rescue Task Force Operations during an Active Shooter / Active Threat incident.

First responders from western and central Massachusetts participated. The training was held at the Eastern State Exposition in West Springfield.

The training is another example of WRHSAC’s dedication to provide inter-disciplinary trainings which enhance skills, improve preparedness, build resilience and foster relationships.

The following photo story and video by Public Safety Multimedia provide dynamic highlights of the training.

Active Threat Integrative Response Video:

Active Threat Integrative Response Photo Story:

Highlights from Amtrak Rail Training

The Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council had the honor to partner with Amtrak Police to offer two weeks of Passenger Rail Training for First Responders. The training was held at Union Station in Springfield, Ma during the month of May. Personnel representing multiple disciplines from municipalities throughout the state attended. Responders from State and Federal agencies also participated. WRHSAC is committed to creating dynamic training environments which foster inter-disciplinary and inter-jurisdictional relationships. These relationships are proven to enhance incident response capabilities and resilience.

The photo story below by Public Safety Multimedia aptly portrays WRHSAC’s commitment to training and establishing partnerships. WRHSAC thanks Amtrak Police and all who participated in the training.

Adobe Spark Page

Greenfield Community College, Greenfield, MA

8:15 am to 4:00 pm

The Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council in partnership with the Franklin County School Nurse Collaborative presents School Emergency Triage Training, a program for school nurses.

School Emergency Triage Training (SETT) is a disaster preparedness training providing school nurses with skills necessary to organize and lead school-based Disaster Response Teams and to perform triage in response to mass casualty incident (MCI) events. SETT is developed by the National Association of School Nurses. 

5.25 Hours of Continuing Nursing Education (CNE) are available. Pre-registration is required. Complete the form below. The training is free. 

This training is open to school nurses in the four counties of western Massachusetts, including Berkshire, Franklin, Hampshire & Hampden.

SETT Objectives include:

  1. Describe the importance of preventative training for disaster planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising and evaluating and taking corrective action prior to a school Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) event.
  2. Lists skills and characteristics a school nurse would need to be an effective leader in mass casualty response in schools.

Upon completion of the training, nurses will be able to demonstrate the following:

  1. Describe the importance of preventative training for disaster planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising and evaluating and taking corrective action prior to a school Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) event.
  2. Lists skills and characteristics a school nurse would need to be an effective leader in mass casualty response in schools.
  3. Apply knowledge to develop basic disaster prevention, protection, mitigation, response and recovery plans for health service providers in schools.
  4. Identify issues unique to the school setting that can impact the sustainability and effectiveness of disaster preparedness measures.
  5. Discuss regional considerations related to disaster preparedness training with local and national resources.
  6. Demonstrate how to use the START/JumpSTART algorithms to perform mass casualty triage.
  7. Identify and list the principles and methods used to perform triage and response to school-based MCI events.
  8. Identify strategies to engage school Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Team volunteers and administrative support.
  9. Describe how the Framework for 21st Century School Nursing Practice ™ is applicable to Emergency/Disaster Preparedness.


The training is free and food will be provided.

On-site sign-in begins at 8:15 am. The training will begin promptly at 9:00 am.

You must be pre-registered.  Registration for this training is closed.

Please contact Raine Brown, Homeland Security Program Manager if you have any questions.

Springfield Union Station, 55 Frank B. Murray Street, Springfield, Ma

Multiple Times

The Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council and Amtrak Police Department are hosting Passenger Rail MCI Training.

Through a combination of classroom and hands-on field training, participants will gain skills to respond to a passenger rail mass casualty incident. Students will become familiar with safety and mechanical aspects of Amtrak passenger rail cars, learn Amtrak response protocols, practice locating victims and victim extraction. Tactical law enforcement teams will also learn car entry and search techniques related to a possible hostage or terrorist incident.  Drill scenarios will be tailored to specific responder disciplines to foster a dynamic learning experience.

The training will be taught by Amtrak Emergency Management and Corporate Security.

Multiple, discipline-specific sessions will be held. Please see below for more information.

This training is open to Massachusetts first responders and State and Federal partners.

The training is free and food will be provided. Training location is Springfield Union Station, 55 Frank B Murray Street, Springfield, MA

6.75 Hours of OEMS Credits are available.

Law Enforcement Learning Objectives

  • Provide participating agencies, first responders and other Amtrak stakeholders with situational awareness and a better understanding of how to protect Amtrak’s passengers, employees, and critical infrastructure from acts of terrorism;
  • Decrease Amtrak’s risk from and vulnerability to a potential attack by enhancing situational awareness of critical assets, establishing interoperability, sharing resources, and allowing for networking opportunities with like agencies; and
  • Aid anti-terrorism efforts designed to protect the rail system and maximize resource planning and allocation, as well as establish and maintain critical relationships with partner agencies
  • Perpetrator engagement and control
  • Familiarize you with railroad operations
  • Preparing/pre-planning for potential train incidents involving active shooter and barricaded subject
  • Understand the factors that could affect your safe response to an incident
  • Recognize on-scene dangers for emergency personnel and your equipment while on or near railroad property.
  • Understand the command, control & communication issues
  • How to stop a train in an emergency situation
  • Identify different types of railroad equipment

Sessions for Law Enforcement will be held on Monday, May 7 through Friday, May 11, 2018, with two days dedicated specifically to tactical/special response team.

  • To register for regular Law Enforcement session, click here.

Fire / EMS Learning Objectives 

  • Familiarize you with railroad operations
  • Preparing/pre-planning for potential train incidents.
  • Understand the factors that could affect your safe response to an incident
  • Recognize on-scene dangers for emergency personnel and your equipment while on or near railroad property.
  • Victim extraction and mitigation
  • Understand the command, control & communications issues
  • How to stop a train in an emergency situation.
  • Identify different types of railroad equipment.

Sessions for Fire and EMS will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, May 16 & 17, 2018. Two sessions each day. To register for Fire/EMS session please click here.


Persons to act as rail accident victims are needed each session. Actors must be 18 years or older. To register as an actor, please click here. 


Other first responder disciplines are invited to observe the hands-on field portion of the training sessions. Limited space is available in each session. To register as an observer, please click here. 

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

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

8:00 am to 5:00 pm

(This training has also been referred to as Operational ICS Training)

This training will provide mid-to-senior level commanders with practical performance level skills enabling them to implement the Incident Command System in the field during every-day responses with confidence while maintaining direct focus on the incident. The course will focus on actions an initial response commander can take to ensure they are using the ICS building blocks and tool‐sets in establishing command and control of an escalating or potentially complex incident. As the attendees learn to better use the management tools within the ICS, they will increase their capacity to manage incidents that are more intricate. Enhancing incident command capabilities improves on‐scene command and control and enhances their ability to establish and maintain a Common Operating Picture.

Registration is required. Please complete the form below to apply.

This course connects the dots between the theory of the Incident Command System and the realities of attempting to apply it while practicing street emergency management. It provides practical and realistic training that enables first responders to actually implement the Incident Command System at the field level or “in the street” during an incident without losing focus on the incident.

Public safety agencies are expected to follow NIMS and have some level of proficiency in utilizing the principles and concepts of the ICS as a condition of receiving Homeland Security grants. Most agencies have completed some of the standardized Incident Command System (ICS) training courses that describe how the system is designed to work and the interactions of the ICS positions that make up an ICS based response organization. However, as it has been repeatedly identified by emergency management professionals, there is no course designed to teach and demonstrate how first responders can realistically achieve the goal of practical ICS implementation on the incidents they respond to on a daily or weekly basis.

The Initial Response Operations for NIMS course focuses on the actions of the All‐Hazards initial response incident commander who is responsible for establishing command and management of the initial response to an incident that may be rapidly escalating to a more complex incident– or already have some characteristics of complex incidents.

The class format of lecture, discussion, and multiple application activities will assist commanders to take NIMS ICS concepts from theory to day to day practice.

Intended Audience

The intended audience is comprised of mid or senior manager emergency responders who may be designated as initial response Incident Commanders or who may arrive first at the scene of an incident and be expected to establish command and management of the initial response to an incident using NIMS and their department policies and procedures. The intended audience may include personnel from a variety of agencies and functional disciplines, including fire service, law enforcement, emergency management, public works departments, public health organizations, medical emergency teams, and hospitals.

This course is independent of the ICS All‐Hazards position‐specific training program or membership on an All‐Hazards Incident Management Team. However, those who assume the incident commander role will benefit from the instruction.

Student Prerequisites

Students attending this course should have completed the baseline ICS training of ICS 100, ICS 200, ICS 300, and IS 700.

The training is free. Food will be provided.

You must attend both days of the training.

OEMS credits are pending.

The course is taught and created by Incident Management Training Consortium.

Registration for this training is closed.