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    Chapter 6: Training and Exercise

    ​​Jump to Section:

    ​A. Training and Exercise Plan

    MDRMRC volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and enter the program with varying credentials, capabilities, and professional experience. In addition, there is variation in what each MDRMRC Unit needs and is able to do. This diversity makes standardization across the MDRMRC Network difficult. As such, it is recommended that training and exercise activities be planned to fulfill local needs as identified in a needs assessment and are in alignment with the MRC Core Competencies. Developed by the national MRC Program, the MRC Core Competencies cover minimum basic skills and knowledge that all MRC volunteers should have regardless of their role. For more information on core competencies, see MRC Core Competencies

    Unit Administrators should develop a training and exercise plan to prepare volunteers to support the Unit’s mission and purpose. The plan should be based on community needs, goals, and resources and should be included in the MDRMRC Unit Volunteer Management Plan – Template

    Volunteers should be assessed to determine their particular needs and to develop their individual training plans. Health professional volunteers often have numerous responsibilities and are interested in training independently during non-traditional business hours. Others prefer the chance to complete the training in a classroom or field setting. Training plans that incorporate options for online, classroom, and field study may be the most effective. Unit training and exercise plans should include:
    • Required training
    • Recommended training
    • Method for assessing training needs
    • Method for advertising training and exercise opportunities
    • Method for tracking and documenting volunteer training records
    • Evaluation plan for measuring the effectiveness of training activities

    ​B. Required Training

    The MDRMRC State Program requires that volunteers complete the “Maryland Responds MRC Orientation” training to be eligible for activation and deployment. The orientation covers the following topics: 
    • The history, mission, and purpose of the MDRMRC
    • The role of the MDRMRC in public health and emergency response 
    • The requirements for membership and deployment eligibility with the MDRMRC 
    • The MDRMRC procedures for activation, reporting, assignment, and demobilization
    • Describe the National Incident Management System (NIMS)/Incident Command System (ICS) and the concepts of chain of command and unity of command during an emergency event
    • Where to find additional MRC resources, such as trainings and materials

    MDRMRC volunteers have two options for taking the “Maryland Responds MRC Orientation” course: 
    • Online: The online orientation is a shorter version of the in-class session and can be completed at https://mdresponds.myicourse.com/user/login 
      • ​Instructions for registering for the online orientation can be found in “Instructions for Taking the Online Orientation Course” (Appendix W
    • In-class: The in-class version of this course presents a comprehensive overview of MDRMRC, as well as a subsequent session on IS 100 and 700 
      • In-class orientations are offered on an annual basis in limited sessions throughout the state 

    Unit Administrators are encouraged to develop a Unit-specific orientation course for their volunteers. The MDRMRC State Program’s orientation presentation can be used as a template and be tailored to meet Unit needs. Unit Administrators may add information to the template; however, should not subtract from the template as the information included reflects minimum knowledge required of all volunteers. Additional topics may include communications, safety and risk reduction, overview of the local response plans, and department public health and medical responsibilities. 

    For templates of the orientation agend​a and presentation, see “Orientation Agenda − Template” (Appendix Q) and “Orientation Presentation − Template” (Appendix R). 

    C. Recommended Training

    In addition to required training, MDRMRC Units should provide volunteers with additional training opportunities based on the identification of local needs. A variety of training opportunities and exercises are recommended to ensure the best preparation of volunteers. Recommended trainings may include, but are not limited to:​

    IS 100 and 700

    The national MRC Program requires MRC Units to be NIMS compliant. All MRC Units should adopt ICS as the management system for response to emergencies and disasters and all MDRMRC volunteers should have a basic understanding of ICS, regardless of their position within a Unit. ICS contains the attributes necessary for efficient, well-coordinated emergency operations. It allows MRC Units to be integrated into the emergency response system used by emergency services agencies, LHDs, and health care institutions nationwide. As such, it is recommended that all MDRMRC volunteers and Unit Administrators complete the following courses: 
    • ICS 100: Introduction to the Incident Command System (ICS 100), or equivalent
      • Introduces the ICS and provides the foundation for higher level ICS training
      • Describes the history, features and principles, and organizational structure of the Incident Command System
      • Explains the relationship between ICS and NIMS 
    • IS 700: National Incident Management System, An Introduction, or equivalent
      • Provides an overview of NIMS
      • Describes the key concepts, principles, scope, and applicability underlying NIMS
      • Explains Emergency Operations Center (EOC) functions, common models for staff organization, and activation levels
      • Explains the interconnectivity within the NIMS Management and Coordination structures: ICS, EOC, Joint Information System (JIS), and Multiagency Coordination Groups (MAC Groups)
      • Identifies and describes the characteristics of communications and information systems, effective communication, incident information, and communication standards and formats
      • Describes the purpose of the National Integration Center

    MDRMRC volunteers can take the IS 100 and 700 courses online through the FEMA Emergency Management Institute. To access these courses, visit https://training.fema.gov/is/courseoverview.aspx?code=IS-100.c and https://training.fema.gov/is/courseoverview.aspx?code=IS-700.b, respectively.

    NIMS/ICS Additional Training

    Responder Safety and Emergency Response Training

    Unit Administrators may also wish to provide responder safety and health training. Some suggested topics are: 
    • Psychological First Aid
    • Personal Emergency Preparedness Training
    • Responder Safety Training 
    • American Heart Association - Heart Savers First Aid, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), Automated External Defibrillator (AED)

    Position and Discipline Specific Training​

    Unit Administrators may also wish to provide position and discipline specific training. Some suggested topics are: 
    • Points of Dispensing Operations − Online version available at: https://mdresponds.myicourse.com
    • Immunization Techniques
    • Mass Care/Shelter Health Training
    • Basic Life Support (BLS)
    • Basic Disaster Life Support (BDLS)
    • Advanced Disaster Life Support (ADLS)

    Just in Time Training (JITT)

    In the event of a public health emergency requiring volunteer involvement, it may be impossible to provide training to volunteers according to the processes described above. In this situation, volunteers should receive JITT in the most efficient, yet effective, manner possible. JITT is a critical piece of the management of spontaneous volunteers and serves as a refresher for experienced MDRMRC volunteers. This training is usually developed in advance and can be presented in multiple formats, including Microsoft PowerPoint, DVD/CD, or via the web. 

    It is recommended that Unit Administrators develop JITT materials based on their Unit’s mission and pre-identified types of emergency response operations their Unit may be activated for (see Chapter 7 for guidance on pre-identified emergency response operations). Unit Administrators are also encouraged to contact their response partners for sources of JITT and consider building a local library of JITT as part of an all-hazards approach. 

    If JITT needs to be developed on demand, PowerPoint presentations or handouts are relatively portable. Work to develop an accurate presentation using simple language, and avoid jargon that may not be understood by new volunteers. Remember to include a brief orientation that highlights proper check-in/check-out procedures, the importance of safety, to whom to report, and expectations or codes of conduct. JITT can be incorporated into the volunteer staging area (see Chapter 7​, Section E) and led by an experienced MDRMRC volunteer. 

    ​D. Additional Training Resources


    As previously mentioned, MDResponds.MyiCourse.com​ is the MDRMRC Network’s online training platform. The purpose of the site is to provide volunteers with access to online training courses that are intended to prepare them for state and local deployments. The website is available 24/7 and gives volunteers the flexibility of completing trainings at their pace and leisure.

    Currently, the “Maryland Responds MRC Orientation” and “Point of Dispensing (POD) for Maryland Responds Volunteers” training are the courses administered through the online training platform. The State Program is looking to add additional trainings to this or another learning management platform in the future. 

    MDRMRC Units are encouraged to upload Unit-specific training courses to this site, which will enable them to offer trainings online, set restrictions on who can take the course or open it up to all volunteers, track volunteer progress through the course, create course exams and evaluation surveys, and automatically generate and send certificates of completion. To submit a MDRMRC Unit training course to be offered online through the MDRMRC online training platform, complete the “Online Training Course Request Form” (Appendix S) and submit the request to the MDRMRC State Program as indicated on the form.


    MRC TRAIN is a learning management system with a centralized, searchable database of courses relevant to public health that is available to all MRC volunteers. The national MRC Program manages MRC TRAIN and has been an affiliate partner of the TRAIN network since 2006. This is an optional resource that MDRMRC Unit Administrators can use to supplement the trainings they offer. Through MRC TRAIN, volunteers can: 
    • Access hundreds of public health courses from nationally recognized course providers, which are offered in the form of web-based learning, on-site learning, and satellite broadcasts 
    • Browse this course listing or search by keyword, subject area, course provider, or competency 

    To help you learn more about the MRC TRAIN program and how to best navigate the system, MRC TRAIN resources are available at https://www.train.org/mrc/help​

    E. Exercise Participation

    Exercises should be designed to provide hands-on experience to prepare volunteers and the community for potential incidents and events. During exercises, volunteers have the opportunity to test their ability to respond to emergencies, fill requested roles in a disaster, and perform needed tasks. 

    As is the case with other MDRMRC activities, exercise participation is not mandatory for volunteers, but highly recommended. Exercises may include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • Mass distribution of medical countermeasures 
    • Mass casualty/fatality incidents
    • Radiation exposure events
    • Patient evacuation/transportation scenario
    • Field hospital deployment
    • Mass care/shelter operations 

    Unit Administrators can coordinate with local response partners to identify additional exercise opportunities for volunteers. In addition, actual operations that simulate mass prophylaxis for a community, such as an annual flu vaccination or immunization clinic, may be treated as an exercise for potential disaster operations because such operations may include providing services to a large number of community members. Further, exercises are often conducted in partnership with state and local response agencies and may also be part of deliverables required for preparedness funding. 

    ​F. Training and Exercise Announcements

    Information about upcoming trainings or exercise opportunities should be captured in an announcement. Training or exercise announcements give a short description of the event, location, date/time, point of contact, and registration/sign-up information. 

    Flier Announcement

    Unit Administrators can create and post/publish training announcement fliers to promote and encourage registration for a training. See “Training Announcement – Template” (Appendix T).  

    Maryland Responds Volunteer Registry Announcement

    Unit Administrators can also use the Registry to notify volunteers about upcoming training and exercise opportunities. See the Volunteer Registry − Administrator Protocols​ for instructions sending out messages through the Registry.

    MDRMRC Network Newsletter Announcement

    Unit Administrators are encouraged to promote their Unit-specific or local training and exercise opportunities through the MDRMRC Network Newsletter to increase volunteer participation. To submit a training or exercise announcement to the MDRMRC Network Newsletter, follow the guidance below: 
    • Description of the training or exercise (under 150 words)
    • Prerequisites, if applicable
    • Intended audience (e.g., all volunteers or certain professions only)
    • Logistical information (e.g., date, time, location)
    • Contact information (e.g., e-mail and telephone number) for questions regarding the training
    • Registration instructions (e.g., link to registration site or online form)
    • If possible, a picture related to the training or exercise would help attract volunteer attention
    • Email all content to mdresponds.health@maryland.gov
    • Please anticipate that your announcement may be revised and may require your attention for final approval

    G. Training and Exercise Tracking and Documentation

    Unit Administrators should encourage volunteers to update their training record in their volunteer profile following the completion of a new training. This enables Unit Administrators to filter activation notifications by completed training courses to ensure only qualified volunteers are contacted for deployments. 

    Updating a volunteer training record includes adding the training course to their profile and uploading training certificates, when applicable. For instructions on how a volunteer can add a new training course to their profile, refer to “How to Update Your Training Record Flier” (Appendix U). It is recommended that this flier be distributed to volunteers during training courses. 

    After a volunteer adds a new training course to their profile, it must be verified by a Unit Administrator. For a Unit Administrator to verify that a volunteer completed training, they must have some form of record such as the training sign-in sheet or uploaded training certificates. See Appendix X for a “Training Sign-in Sheet − Template.” 

    The State Administrators will verify and approve training records for trainings conducted by the MDRMRC State Program (e.g., MDRMRC Orientation Course). Unit Administrators are requested to verify and approve training records for trainings that they conduct locally. Refer to the Volunteer Registry − Administrator Protocols for instructions on how to verify and accept training records.

    To verify volunteer participation in an exercise, attendance should be tracked in the Registry. Unit Administrators can record volunteer exercise participation by creating a group in the Registry for a particular exercise activity and then adding volunteers who participated to that group. See the Volunteer Registry − Administrator Protocols for instructions on creating a group.

    ​H. Training and Exercise Evaluation

    Unit Administrators are encouraged to develop evaluation measures prior to administration of training or conducting an exercise, as well as to conduct evaluations during and after a training or exercise. To see a template evaluation form for trainings, see “Training Evaluation Form – Template” (Appendix V). An after action survey can be used to evaluate an exercise, see “After Action Survey for Activation – Template” (Appendix DD​) for a template survey that can be adapted to evaluate an exercise. Evaluation findings can help improve training and exercise experiences for volunteers, trainers, and Unit Administrators. 

    I. MDRMRC State Program Training and Exercise Activities

    Statewide training and exercise activities are intended to supplement and support local efforts. Statewide trainings and exercises will focus on providing the required orientation training, as previously described, state level exercise opportunities, and other recommended training courses as available. 

    In addition, the MDRMRC State Program will work to seek state level training and exercise opportunities for volunteers. Specifically, the MDRMRC State Program will: 
    • Subscribe to distribution lists to collect information on relevant training and exercise opportunities for volunteers
    • Administer in-person training for the required orientation course annually
    • Maintain a list of additional training resources on the MDRMRC Network website
    • Continue to work on gaining continuing education credit approval for MDRMRC required training courses from licensing boards and professional organizations
    • Verify and approve records for MDRMRC State Program sponsored trainings and exercises
    • Conduct evaluations following MDRMRC State Program sponsored trainings and exercises