In early 2013 two of our members started down the difficult road of FEMA’s Master Exercise Practitioner Program (MEPP). The Master Exercise Practitioner Program is designed to improve the capabilities of emergency management exercise personnel in every phase of the exercise process and in accordance with the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP).
MEPP is composed of three week long courses that focus on developing exercises and measuring the results of the performance of exercise participants. There are stringent requirements to apply to the MEPP course and many classes need to be taken in advance of the application, including FEMA’s three day HSEEP boot camp. Successful applicants must also posses a good background in exercises, both as participants and as exercise staff.
The MEPP series is time intensive and challenging. Homework assignments requiring 40 to 80 hours of work are assigned between the three classroom sessions and failure to complete any portion results in dismissal from the program. The failure rate for students is as high as 50%. Only about two thousand individuals, mostly emergency response professionals, have successfully completed the training.
OMEGA’s goal in having members attend this training is to develop a better understanding of the HSEEP methodology and become more skilled at creating and executing exercises, while capturing results and data for future exercise development. OMEGA is the primary agency in Colorado’s North Central All-Hazards Emergency Management Region (NCR) for leading full scale simulations for Citizen Corps programs and volunteers, as well as supporting NCR’s professional responders with execution of training.
After state and regional sponsorship into the class and an arduous application process, both of our members were admitted into the class. This MEPP series was to be hosted by FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute in Colorado. The course is rarely taken on the road due to logistical requirements and this was one of those lucky opportunities where students did not have to travel to the east coast for the training. The class was to be held starting October 2013 at the Colorado State Emergency Operations Center in Centennial, but the start of the training was postponed until January 2014 due to the October government shutdown.