Preparing for the Worst

Helping military personnel prepare to support
civilian authorities in the event of disaster

CLIENT: U.S. Army North
PROJECT: Defense Support of Civil Authorities

In the event of a disaster, the U.S. military is the last backup. Before military aid is requested, the disaster must overwhelm the capabilities of every local, state, and federal civilian agency. When DoD gets involved, the situation is dire.

U.S. Army North was tasked with training military personnel on their roles in the event of such a serious disaster. In the wake of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, the federal government had taken a hard look at its disaster response system. Changes had to be made.

Teleologic worked with U.S. Army North to develop a curriculum that would train military personnel and civilian responders on the evolving system for providing Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA).

The curriculum included:

  • Online DSCA Overview course for military and civilian personnel.

  • In-class DSCA courses developed by and taught by USARNORTH personnel. (Teleologic did not develop these in-class courses, but fashioned the other elements of the curriculum so that they complemented the in-class courses.)

  • Defense Coordinating Officer (DCO) course: Specialized training on the duties of DCOs, who are military officers stationed in each FEMA region, primarily responsible for any military response within that region.

  • Emergency Preparedness Liaison Officer (EPLO) course: Specialized training on the duties of EPLOs, who are military officers in each branch of service tasked with DSCA responsibilities.

  • CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force (CCMRF) course: Specialized training for military personnel assigned to CCMRFs, which are specialized teams tasked with preparing for incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high- yield explosive threats.

  • CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force (CCMRF) handbook: A handbook introducing CCMRF personnel to their duties in a DSCA operation.

  • Decision-making Exercises: Three scenario-based training experiences that guided learners through possible decisions that might have to be made in response to three disasters:

    • Major hurricane
    • Chemical incident
    • Nuclear or radiological incident

  • DSCA News Alert: Each learner received a weekly news update, created by Teleologic, to keep them updated on important issues regarding DSCA.

Business Challenges

Teleologic's challenge was to clearly explain the complex DSCA process, a process that is always undertaken under significant stress. Learners needed to understand their own roles, plus the roles of othersfrom local, state, and federal organizations -- who would have to come together quickly as a team and work in unison to respond to a disaster. Military personnel also needed to understand the legal framework under which they were allowed -- or not allowed -- to respond.

Teleologic Solutions

The solution included attention to the following principles:

Purposeful: What is the client trying to achieve?

  • Given the extensive nature of disasters and the range of responders -- both civilian and military -- USARNORTH needed a suite of training products that would provide both an overview of the system as a whole and specific training on the roles of particular military responders. The decision-making exercises were used as a capstone to expose the learner to relevant and realistic situations that might arise during the course of DSCA operations.

Learner-centric: How will the learners' needs be addressed?

  • The learning in the DSCA curriculum is telescopic. It begins at a broad level, surveying the field. From there, it narrows down to specific duties of specific personnel, and finally to realistic scenarios. It is supplemented with written materials and weekly updates for additional learning. In-class instruction gives learners the chance to make personal connections.

Visually Meaningful: How does the graphic identity and supporting visual elements support the purpose?

  • The images in the DSCA program are striking in that they depict real-life disasters faced by previous responders in the past. In the decision-making exercises, each scenario features video that dramatically depicts the catastrophe.

Technologically Appropriate: How can technology be used appropriately to achieve the client's outcomes?

  • A combination of technologies was appropriate for the DSCA program. Online presentation was suitable for a broad overview of the topic, which allowed learners to arrive at the in-class sessions with a firm basic knowledge of DSCA. Specific, role- oriented learning was also accomplished online, with the scenario-based decision- making exercises serving as the capstone, instead of an in-class experience. Many learners have complimented the value of the weekly updates that arrive in their mailboxes."