Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Captain Robert Rhoads — captain at Fire Station 4 in Herndon — completed training provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in November.
Rhoads said the training — through the department's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — was a part of a nationwide emergency preparedness plan established in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001.
Because there was no formalized plan before Sept. 11, 2001, Rhoads said now fire and rescue officials — in addition to many other emergency response technicians — are completing courses to unite the country to learn and understand a unified plan in case of an emergency.
Through the National Fire Academy's command and general staff functions in the incident command system course, Rhoads said he and 23 other fire and rescue officials from around the country took National Incident Management System (NIMS) courses regarding the various components of the complex NIMS emergency preparedness plan.
"We were getting more familiar and more comfortable with all of those components," said Rhoads.
Rhoads explained through the system there are various levels that emergency preparedness crews operate on. If an event is something as simple as a single-family house fire in town, he said they would operate using one or two levels of the incident system.
But, if the event was large scale — such as multiple bomb explosions — he said they would operate using more components of the system.
Although Rhoads said he hopes he will not be using the more complex levels of the plan in Herndon, it never hurts to be prepared.
"I'll be better prepared to be part of incident management in Fairfax County — if we're ever presented with that," he said of the six-day training course.