The Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium

As terrorist and natural incidents continue to threaten the safety and quality of life of Americans and as federal funding to combat these activities have become more risk oriented, Congress, in 2004 authorized the development of a Rural Domestic Preparedness Training Center to develop and deliver all-hazards preparedness training to rural communities across the Nation. Eastern Kentucky University was awarded a competitive grant offered by the Department of Homeland Security to establish this training center. In 2005, legislation authorized the creation of a Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium to be developed among a group of academic institutions. Again, after a competitive bid, EKU was awarded a grant to establish this Consortium and leveraged the development of the Training Center as one working arm of the Consortium.

Throughout 2005, the newly created RDPC, managed by EKU as the executive agent, identified four additional universities to become charter academic partners in the Consortium based upon their unique niche capabilities in developing and delivering homeland security preparedness training to rural communities. These academic partners include East Tennessee State University, Iowa Central Community College, NorthWest Arkansas Community College, and The University of Findlay.

At present, the Consortium academic partners (Eastern Kentucky University, East Tennessee State University, Iowa Central Community College, NorthWest Arkansas Community College and The University of Findlay) are in various stages of development on their courses. Most are developing more than one course and each can be on different development timelines. However, several courses are nearing the pilot stages and the first pilots are scheduled to being in late October/early November. In the interim, the Consortium is hosting the delivery of training by other providers, such as AWR 186: Emergency Responders & the Hard of Hearing Community: Taking the First Steps to Disaster Preparedness, ramping up the second national needs assessment survey, and getting the word out to the Consortium’s rural stakeholders of the training resources that will be available to them.

According to Congress, “Training for rural first responders poses unique challenges when compared to their urban counterparts. This new consortium will provide rural first responders with awareness level training, develop emerging training, and provide technical assistance in support of rural homeland security requirements…" Conference Report (H.Rept. 108-774) accompanying the Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Act (Public Law 108-334)

Like all DHS-certified courses, the training will be provided free of charge to jurisdictions who request it.

The academic partners are constantly looking at ways to tailor their training to address issues and scenarios that correlate with rural challenges. There are some issues that cross jurisdictional boundaries between urban and rural, but there are some areas that resonate more with rural communities, such as agricultural safety and security.

All emergency responders defined in the National Preparedness Guidelines are eligible to participate in the training, as well as other key stakeholders who have a role to play in the safety and security of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

More information about the Consortium can be obtained through the quarterly newsletter, Rural Preparedness Quarterly, the national needs assessment report, or by calling 859-626-8106 or emailing info@ruraltraining.org. Our website will be available soon at www.ruraltraining.org.