West Virginia University and the West Virginia National Guard are working together to provide training to the military, search and rescue teams and first responders in the state and across the country, to respond to crises and disaster situations.
Today (Sept. 15), Vice President for Research Fred King signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Maj. Gen. James A. Hoyer, the adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard.
The partnership seeks to bolster national security by providing counter-terrorism training.
The signing marks an evolution in an alliance formed in 2008 between WVU and the state’s National Guard. That collaboration provided Federal Emergency Management Agency-approved classes to military, first responders and other groups.
WVU and the National Guard collaborated on instructional design, production of the classes, marketing and recruitment of participants.
The new agreement expands that program, bringing in the whole State Military Authority in addition to the federal side of the West Virginia National Guard’s capabilities.
The expanded partnership includes WVU Continuing Education credentials for the courses and the addition of the State Military Authority involvement, which will benefit the state. It also includes the development of more short-term classes and intense recruitment activities.
“It is a privilege and an honor for West Virginia University to contribute to our nation’s security and resiliency through this training partnership with the West Virginia National Guard,” said King. “I believe we all share the commitment to strengthening the state and nation’s emergency preparedness, coordination and response to crisis events.”
The agreement presents a unique opportunity to provide FEMA-approved courses in southern West Virginia’s Memorial Tunnel in southeast Kanawha County.
Formerly part of a highway in the 1950s, the decommissioned 2,802-foot long tunnel now serves as home for the Center for National Response, a multipurpose exercise and training facility.
“This partnership strengthens the ability for West Virginia to develop solutions to national security and homeland security gaps,” said Hoyer. “Because of this partnership we can create opportunities for cost effective, quality and timely solutions that keep our nation safe and secure.”
Currently, the National Guard provides a course at Memorial Tunnel known as Improvised Explosive Device Response on Mass Transit and Passenger Rail Systems. First responders enrolled in the course perform tactical operations in a scenario-driven exercise under realistic incident conditions involving a post-blast IED incident on a mass transit or passenger rail system.
The course can be customized to fit the needs of first responder departments, depending on the environment they work in, and can be delivered as a mobile version.
The partnership lays the foundation necessary develop new training options at the CNR. Currently there is a one-day, “make safe” course in development for bomb squads during which tactical teams will be taught to identify and disarm various explosives.
King and Hoyer signed the agreement during a ceremony in Morgantown. The five-year agreement will have an annual renewal.
CONTACT: LaRue Williams, Office of Research Program Management
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