Crisis communications program launches first online training

Topics: Administrative, College of Sciences and Humanities, Emerging Media

December 10, 2010

Supervisors of 9-1-1 call centers across the country may take a free course from Ball State University to help them better handle communications during a crisis.

Advanced Crisis Communications Strategies for Public Safety Communications Supervisors was developed by the university's Advanced Crisis Communications Training program (ACCT) and now has passed review by the National Incident Management System (NIMS) review. The course number is AWR-212-W. It may be accessed online at www.bsu.edu/acct.  

The interdepartmental ACCT team created the course under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  The group  is headed by Bryan Byers, a professor of criminal justice and criminology at Ball State.

"This course demonstrates the collaborative effort between FEMA and the university to make available an added resource for state and local communities as they build their capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate hazards,"  said Byers, who noting that participants will receive formal certification after completing the course. "Confusion and rumors often accompany emergency incidents. Supervisors of public safety communications centers – even those who don't typically interact with the news media and the public – should find this course helpful in reducing the negative consequences of misinformation regarding a hazardous event."

Under its fiscal year 2007 Competitive Training Grant program, FEMA awarded Ball State $2.5 million for the project, creating innovative on-site and online training courses for supervisors in 9-1-1 call centers nationwide.  The online courses are part of the university's $17.7 million Emerging Media Initiative (EMI).

The Ball State team also is developing an on-site course for 9-1-1 supervisors, incident commanders and agency decision-makers. Additional specialized online and on-site courses are being developed for public information officers. For those pending on-site courses, the ACCT team is seeking qualified instructors around the country, Byers said.

Since 2008, ACCT has worked with the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and National Emergency Number Association (NENA), two of the nation's leading emergency services associations, to improve 9-1-1 communications.

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