Around a dozen Fitchburg police officers, firefighters and first responders attended an emergency training held by Wisconsin Emergency Management on Friday, Jan. 10, at the new Fitchburg Fire Rescue Station No. 3 on Syene Road.

The emergency management agency, a part of the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs, partners with governments and communities throughout the state to ensure they have the tools and trainings necessary to effectively respond to emergency situations, said Todd Lindert, a contract instructor for Wisconsin's Department of Homeland Security.

The agency travels to police departments, fire departments, national guard bases and other emergency response personnel outposts to provide hands-on instruction in a variety of areas such as managing an emergency and building up better intercommunication skills between different departments.

In addition to working with radios, walkie-talkies and computer programs inside the fire station, attendees were taken outside to the parked Dane County command vehicle 1 and Fitchburg’s car 20, both field support unit vehicles, to be trained in the many features and technologies of the vehicles.

Lindert said attendees come to the training with different communication skills – some are more adept at computers, others at radio – but when they complete the program, he said they all leave with the same level of knowledge.

The training also teaches how to set up an emergency operations center and incident command post. Lindert said it gets personnel out of their offices and into the field.

He said one of the most valuable aspects of the trainings is networking. He said attendees leave with a better understanding of who to call during an emergency. He said different emergency personnel have their own technology systems and procedures they use during emergencies. The trainings help to increase personnel interoperability, allowing them to better talk to each other, communicate and operate across different radio and computer systems.

“Training is a vital part of any emergency response because you can’t wait for something to happen in order to figure out what you’re going to do,” said Andrew Beckett, WEM assistant public information officer, “You need to have trainings, you need to work through those responses in advance so that when the time comes and those skills are needed, the people who are involved have gone through that training, they know what the need to do, they know how to respond and they know how to act in order to do everything they can to protect the public.”

Lindert said Fitchburg has been proactive about these training sessions and has put itself in a position where it is better prepared than other Wisconsin communities to respond to emergency situations.

Neal Patten can be contacted at neal.patten@wcinet.com.