Shawn Mecham, senior training specialist - executive programs, Texas A&M University delivers remarks to public information communicators from perspective agencies during an annual Crisis Communications Joint Training seminar onboard Naval Air Facility (NAF) El Centro Nov. 9-10, 2021. NAF El Centro supports joint service air combat training and readiness of the Warfighter. | U.S. Navy photo by Kristopher Haugh
SEELEY — Naval Air Facility El Centro hosted an annual crisis communications joint training seminar with local agencies on Nov. 9 and 10.
The course examined the role of public information in managing all-emergency incidents and provided practical training in crisis communications techniques. These emergencies might include earthquakes, floods, or aviation mishaps.
“This is our seventh year teaching this course at NAF El Centro, and it is by far one of our favorite places to visit,” said Shawn Mecham, senior training specialist — executive programs, Texas A&M University.
The two-day course focused on public information and warning, target audiences and messaging, news and social media, and crisis communications planning. The objective of this course was to prepare community leaders, heads of agencies, incident managers, and public information officers to communicate effectively with the public through all available means during a crisis.
“I was glad to see many people from different agencies during the seminar,” said Melissa Peralta Villalobos, community relations manager, Imperial Regional Detention Facility. “This training should be taken by all communicators who prepare for crisis situations and who are required to effectively inform the public.”
Personnel attended the training from various agencies, including: Imperial County Public Health Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, City of Imperial, City of El Centro, El Centro Fire Department, NAFEC El Centro, Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Department of Defense Police, Federal Fire Department El Centro, Yuma County Sheriff’s Office, and the Imperial Valley Regional Detention Center.
“This training hits two critical items for me,” said Capt. William Perkins, commanding officer, NAF El Centro.” Ensuring key personnel onboard the installation are prepared to respond to a crisis, and broadening the relationship with our partners across the Imperial Valley so that we are prepared to jointly respond or mutually aid in times of need.”
The seminar was instructed by the National Emergency Response and Recovery Training Center, a component of the Texas A&M University-Engineering Extension Service and funded by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security.
When asked why he attended training, Stuart Vaughn, assistant chief of training, Federal Fire Department NAF El Centro stated, “The day we stop preparing should be the day we are prepared to stop!”
Plans are underway to conduct a second iteration of this seminar in November 2022. Agencies interested in registering for the training should contact the installation’s public affairs officer, Mr. Kristopher Haugh.
“This course is attended year after year in large numbers from key members of the community and supporting agencies, which is a testament to how important the relationships are,” said Perkins. “NAF El Centro is honored to support and enable this training, create bonds, and foster the continued relationships.”
The mission of NAF El Centro is to support the combat training and readiness of the warfighter. This includes air operations support to operational fleet and training squadrons as well as squadrons from other services (Marine Corps, Army, Air Force) and international military partners.