Contact: Chet Lasell
Assistant Director of Public Information
Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services
September 15, 2016
DHSES Hosts New York's Bomb Squads, K-9 Teams, & Emergency Responders in Oneida County for State's Largest Bomb Squad Exercise
EMS providers and students from UAlbany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity participate in the ‘Excelsior Challenge’ for the first time
Joining responders from across New York this year were experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. To support cross-border coordination, a law enforcement team from Peel Regional Police in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, acknowledged as one of Canada’s most progressive police services, also joined the training with their counterparts from New York this week.
This year’s exercise included students from SUNY Albany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, the first-of-its-kind program in the United States. The students received briefings on the exercise from DHSES, learned how DHSES supports law enforcement specialty teams, and listened to experts discuss the current threat environment. The students also served as role players in each of the scenarios at the exercise.
“Each year, our team strives to make the ‘Excelsior Challenge’ as engaging as possible for the State’s first responders by incorporating relevant and realistic threat scenarios into the program,” said DHSES Commissioner John P. Melville. “By incorporating EMS providers, as well as students from the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity into the scenarios, we have set a new standard for how exercises of this type will look in the future.”
Established in May 2015, the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity began offering a bachelor’s degree program at the start of the 2016-2017 academic year to help train the next generation of leaders in these critical fields. To provide relevant real-world experiences to students, CEHC is partnering with public agencies, private companies and non-profit organizations, including the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, among others. These partnerships provide research, internship and training opportunities to students, including at the State Preparedness Training Center, where students can apply high level concepts learned in the classroom to complex simulated real-life threats.
In addition to integrating UAlbany students into the exercise for the first time, other new additions to the 2016 Excelsior Challenge include:
For the first time, this year’s Excelsior Challenge will utilize the state’s new approach to disaster response and recovery – NY Responds –a single, unified online electronic system that connects every county across New York State. NY Responds changes the way that the State collects and uses information from local governments to better respond in emergency situations and provides access to Mutualink for county emergency management stakeholders. Mutualink, a technology solution that securely integrates telephone, radio, video and file sharing into one, interoperable application enables unprecedented collaboration between emergency management stakeholders across the state.
During the Excelsior Challenge, video and audio of the training scenarios will be live-streamed to users through Mutualink. The Excelsior Challenge will provide a unique hands-on opportunity for emergency managers to use NY Responds and Mutualink, and gain a better understanding of its benefits for both emergencies and daily operations.
Operated DHSES, the SPTC’s vast array of training venues gives bomb squad, canine teams and tactical teams a chance to train in realistic environments such as a simulated city, residential housing complex, collapsed building rubble pile, woodland structures and other settings. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the SPTC annually trains thousands of New York’s first responders, namely law enforcement and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, in a variety of areas including response to active shooter events, emergency vehicle operations, EMS special situations, and patrol officer survival.
DHSES has made numerous enhancements to the Excelsior Challenge each year since the exercise began in 2010 as a training for explosive detection canine teams. Driven by the changing threat environment, the annual exercise evolved in 2012 to focus on joint training between bomb squads and explosive detection canine teams. During the past two years, DHSES made further advancements to the exercise by adding tactical teams with an emphasis on full bomb squad, explosive detection canine team and tactical team coordination.
New York State Police Superintendent George P. Beach II said, “The Excelsior Challenge provides an opportunity for our specialty units to sharpen their skills in coordination with members of other law enforcement agencies across the state. These types of exercises are important because they ensure State Troopers and our local partners are prepared for any emergency.”
Margaret E. Ryan, Executive Director of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police said, “The multidiscipline approach of the Excelsior Challenge and the New York State Preparedness Training Center creates an environment for emergency services to enhance their ability to create scenario-based training in a realistic environment. NYSACOP and law enforcement agencies across New York State training together tests the interoperability to provide increased readiness for all. The Excelsior Challenge and the SPTC are a great resource for our emergency responders across the state. “
David L. Rousseau, PhD, Interim Dean, College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity at the University of Albany said, “I am delighted that our students have been invited to observe the Excelsior Challenge training at the New York State Preparedness Training Center. The College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity at the University at Albany has just created a new undergraduate major which requires students to complete a number of applied learning requirements, including participating in and observing training. I believe that serving as role players in the Excelsior training will give the students a unique perspective on how high fidelity training is essential for preparing the workforce for the challenges of the 21st century. The SPTC is one of the country’s premier training facilities and we are looking forward to building a wide variety of unique training opportunities for our students. It is a rare and exciting opportunity for us.”
Lee Burns, Director, Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma Systems at the New York State Department of Health said, “Involving the Emergency Medical Services in these exercises can only benefit the EMS providers. In today’s environment, it is imperative that law enforcement, EMS and fire are all working together from the same plan. When an actual event occurs, the response is coordinated and made safer for all of the responders and the public.”
Local Law Enforcement Agencies
Additional Law Enforcement Agencies Participating
Agencies Participating in the EMS Element of Excelsior
Key Federal Partners
The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and its four offices -- Counter Terrorism, Emergency Management, Fire Prevention and Control, and Interoperable and Emergency Communications -- provides leadership, coordination and support for efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism and other man-made and natural disasters, threats, fires and other emergencies. For more information, visit the Facebook page, follow @NYSDHSES on Twitter, or visit dhses.ny.gov.