Some Tennessee Emergency Management Agency Coordinators Skip Vital Training, Audit Reveals

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Tennessee Emergency Management Agency officials did not make sure all coordinators completed all required training courses, according to a performance audit state Comptrollers released late last week.

Specifically, TEMA officials did not make sure between 26 to 60 Emergency Services Coordinators completed training courses, as required by the agency’s Training Policies and Procedures, auditors wrote.

State officials task TEMA with coordinating, preparing, responding to and offering recovery from man-made, natural, and technological hazards.

According to the report, various state employees and volunteers did not complete courses pertaining to Incident Command Training, Intra-State Mutual Aid, Emergency Management Software Training, and Emergency Worker Training, among various other required courses.

According to the report, TEMA management told auditors they remind ESCs about monthly training requirements and provide them with annual reports detailing their completion or incompletion of required training courses.

Some of the ESCs tell TEMA “they do not attend all of the required trainings due to other requirements such as their own jobs or busy working emergencies.”

Also, they “might not attend training because they are volunteers and are not reimbursed for being an ESC.”

“Furthermore, based on our discussions, TEMA seems to place emphasis on its required training courses; however, TEMA management lacks the authority to force the ESCs’ participation in the training courses,” Comptrollers wrote.

“Because ESCs play a vital role in emergency and disaster situations, ensuring the ESCs are properly trained is essential to the state’s emergency preparedness and emergency response functions. In fact, the State of Tennessee Executive Order No. 15 of 1998 authorizes ESCs to coordinate and direct all emergency response functions and services during a disaster, and as such, ESCs’ training status is critical.”

Auditors said the TEMA director should notify the heads of state agencies and departments about ESCs’ failure to comply with state requirements. They also said TEMA management should consider whether to seek changes to state law “to gain greater authority to enforce required training requirements for ESCs.”

In a written response, TEMA management officials wrote they have worked to make changes.

“As mentioned in the report, TEMA management has limited authority to force or “ensure” ESC training completion. This is especially true for ESCs that are not state employees, such as volunteers from non-profit organizations and private partners,” TEMA management wrote.

TEMA managers also said they “will make procedural and administrative changes to communicate and reinforce the importance of training, meeting and exercise participation, and annual workshop attendance of our partners.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

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