FOCUSING ON TRAINING - Rick Whitson, Montgomery County Emergency Management director, has designed a coordinated training website for all area emergency agencies to participate in training programs. Steve McBride | Staff Photo
FOCUSING ON TRAINING - Rick Whitson, Montgomery County Emergency Management director, has designed a coordinated training website for all area emergency agencies to participate in training programs. Steve McBride | Staff Photo

Soon after his arrival as the Montgomery County Emergency Management director, Rick Whitson realized the gap in communication among the emergency agencies in the county and surrounding region. "What alarmed me was I thought I had taken all the Incident Command System (ICS) classes that were required but I discovered I was still short one. I spent nine months trying to enroll in a class which was in Wichita. What I didn't know was there were two classes in Coffeyville I knew nothing about," said Whitson. That led him to create a training opportunities calendar on his website: www.mocountyksem.wordpress.com, where anybody can login and go to the calendar of events to view all training information and opportunities available in the area. 

Whitson has also included on the emergency management website his Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google calendar so when all the surrounding agencies become aware of any training opportunities they can be sent to Whitson and he will post them on this website for everyone to find. 

Any training class listed on the website will include all the details of that class, including how to register to attend the training program. If a department is requesting a training class, that request can be sent to Whitson and he can request it through Kansas Department of Emergency Management (KDEM) who will approve the request. "KDEM is the organization that arranges the instructors and curriculum and gives approval to host the class," said Whitson. Once the class is approved, he will post it on the training site so that other agencies can view it and take advantage of the class also. He can also request training through Kansas University and Oklahoma State University as well as KS-Train (FEMA/Emergency Management Institute) and KU fire school. 

"If an individual agency wants to arrange their own training and they want to invite other agencies they can email me and I can advertise the opportunity throughout the region," said Whitson. 

"It is my desire to fill the gap in the communication of the surrounding agencies about training opportunities. I have discovered that there are classes being held but they don't know how to reach the people that need the training," Whitson said. 

It is common knowledge the better area agencies are trained overall the better they will work together when a situation happens that needs multiple agencies to work together. "It helps when everybody is hearing the same thing and training the same way so they can face any challenge together with the same information and abilities," said Whitson. 

"It is important we get this information out to the public in our region to know where to go to find the information regarding training and where they can go to request it."