The tornado that hit downtown Atlanta in March is a prime example of the unexpected crises that demand rapid, seamless and efficient communications among first responders (police, firefighters, EMTs, etc.) and local and state emergency operations centers (EOCs). Recent milestones in emergency management technology have enabled EOCs to share real-time topographical intelligence and data that enable them to deploy responders and resources swiftly where they are needed most.

The launch of ESi University will provide the Southeast with a state-of-the-art training center for emergency management professionals. The training center was announced in May by ESi, Augusta, Ga., a provider of crisis information management solutions including a Web-enabled emergency management communications system that provides real-time information sharing to facilitate decision-making in emergency situations. The Atlanta-based center will train EOC teams from jurisdictions across the region on crisis resource management, design and development of EOC operations, process flow implementation and other areas critical to building the capacity of EOCs to respond to events of varying levels of urgency.

The university is led by Jim Cook, an emergency management veteran and former Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency director. “The goal of ESi University is to provide the best, most comprehensive training and certification on ESi products available in the world,” Cook says. “I am confident that with this program we will be able to create a better-educated pool of talent for emergency management agencies.”

Along with Cook, William Smith, deputy director of operations, Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency, spoke at the launch about how Atlanta used the software during the recent tornado and how WebEOC, ESi's flagship product, is used every day to help the city.

WebEOC links together local, state, federal, volunteer, private and worldwide sources and provides users with a common operation picture, giving responders and managers access to the critical operational data they need to make sound decisions quickly.

At ESi University, emergency management professionals have the opportunity to become WebEOC administrators and participate in other courses such as WebEOC Resource Manager, Advanced Board Building, How to Implement Process Flow, Conducting Exercises with WebEOC and EOC/Command Center Operations.

ESi University is offering WebEOC certification in four specific areas: WebEOC Administrator, “Advanced” Board Builder, Instructor and Associate.

“The purpose of the certification program is to educate and empower emergency operation center administrators to do end-user training for their organizations,” says Don Drinkwater, certification administrator of ESi University. “The ESi University training and certification program will offer WebEOC users skills that they can not receive at any other facility.”

With its mock EOC and state-of-the-art technology, ESi University is expected to attract emergency management professionals from all over the world for training on various ESi products and on emergency management processes. Currently ESi is expecting to offer two to three training classes per month, with that number increasing as the training and certification program grows.