2020 OR&R External Training Accomplishments
DECEMBER 14, 2020 — Prior to 2020, the majority of the OR&R training was conducted in-person at venues throughout the country.
Suddenly, OR&R was canceling scheduled training, and was faced with the dilemma of not being able to host in-person training. OR&R was concerned that we would not reach our goal of training 2,000 emergency responders in 2020. However, as they often do, the OR&R team saw this challenge as an opportunity and rather than fall behind in our training metrics for 2020, we doubled them! OR&R collectively trained over 4,000 responders in 2020! How did we accomplish our training goals?
- Preparation and foresight. In 2019, the OR&R External Training team recognized the need to expand our capacity of hosting external virtual training and secured accounts with Adobe Connect and Zoom to explore virtual options. Having these accounts ready gave us an opportunity to quickly move training into the virtual setting.
- Creativity: Instructors within OR&R’s Emergency Response Division with assistance from the Disaster Preparedness Program (DPP) worked to create two separate lecture series training: the very successful You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know Lecture Series and the Tuesday Technical Talks. The NOAA training presentations were very well received by our audience, and averaged approximately 200 attendees per lecture.
- Hard work and persistence: The OR&R team also worked to reformat multi-day in person courses for the virtual environment. This entailed a detailed analysis of existing lessons, creating recorded pre-assignment lectures, and developing new homework assignments in order to minimize “live online” time for students. During the week of August 31, we conducted the first ever virtual Science of Chemical Releases (SOCR) class with 35 students and 20 contact hours. The class was a great success and we are using the lessons learned to inform development of training courses in 2021. Courses include virtual Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Techniques (SCAT) which was recently taught in November; and DPP is working on developing virtual versions of the NOAA-specific Incident Command System 300 course and the Emergency Support Function Resource Advisor course.
With a bit of preparation, foresight, creativity, hard work and persistence the OR&R External Training Team and the OR&R instructors turned lemons into lemonade in 2020! We look forward to getting back into the classroom to train responders in person, however we recognize that remote learning is here to stay. OR&R is now better positioned to work in a virtual setting. We continue to look for ways to improve access to our scientific and technical training so that the response community is prepared to respond.
For more information, contact Kimberly.Albins@noaa.gov.