This is a two-part blog series. Read part 1 here.

Community preparedness starts with first responders.

When we talk to fire chiefs, police commissioners, mayors and other public officials, they tell us that part of protecting the community is getting their individuals the best training possible in all aspects of emergency preparedness. At SERTC, we refer to ourselves as “Team SERTC,” a specialized group trained for a particular purpose. Our instructors represent many different backgrounds, from fire and law enforcement to EMS, railroads and industry. We have a cadre of instructors for every SERTC course, so students receive different perspectives and stay engaged.

We’re hearing from students daily on social media that they have an excited curiosity about what’s new at SERTC. Well, stop thinking about it, and START DOING IT. If you’re not sure, reach out to an instructor of Team SERTC or connect with previous trainees on our Facebook page. We’re excited about our new school and can’t wait to bring students in. With classes based on new adult learning techniques, and geared toward maximum learning retention, we’re adding to the curriculum and building new props to provide a memorable learning experience.

SERTC Has a Proud History

In 2009 we became a member of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC). The funding SERTC can access in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Training and Education Division (NTED), has been used to train 10,000 first responders to date — at no cost to themselves or their sponsoring agencies.

For communities that can’t come to us, we bring SERTC to them. We have hazmat experts on the road with remote delivery courses that take place at community-based facilities. We offer interactive web-based courses led by the Team SERTC instructors that our students have come to know and trust. Our goal with the options is to be accessible to all communities and all levels of professionals.

Constantly Innovating to Provide Real-world Training

I think people are going to be “wowed” by the new facilities and updates we’ve made to the SERTC experience. And because so many of us were limited in travel during the pandemic, everyone is eager to get back to training in person. At the new site, you’ll see new scenarios, new railcars and brand-new highway vessels that represent the industry standard. Both the curriculum and props are updated, to be more user-friendly and provide a top-notch educational experience.

The commitment to real-world conditions has always been part of what we’ve done. For example, the Crude Oil/Class 3 Liquid Emergencies training was created based on a national need. When it started in 2014, the Class I railroads were all in getting us the railcars and whatever we needed to get the class up and running. They continued to invest in the program by sending their employees for training, providing scholarships and visiting the site every January to share knowledge. Today, it continues to be one of our most requested classes. SERTC core classes offered in 2023 are all FEMA-certified and specialist-level, informed by the latest insights from subject matter experts. Updated classes include:

  • Highway Emergency Response Specialist (HERS)
  • HazMat Tech/WMD Technician for Surface Transportation (HWMDTST)
  • Tank car Specialist (TCS)
  • Tactical HazMat Operations in Surface Transportation (THMOST)

We’ve listened to the subject matter experts. We’ve heard the requests from our students. Come experience it. We are looking at pre-pandemic levels of registration right now, and we’re always looking forward to the next bus of trainees coming in.

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Kelly Bozarth is Lead Instructor II of the Flammable Liquids Program at SERTC. He holds a number of fire, rescue, and hazmat certifications. Kelly joined SERTC and MxV Rail after 17 years of an advancing career with Mississippi Fire Service, including four years teaching at MS State Fire Academy. His best days are when he’s teaching. “We’re here to learn and have fun. The best reward is when you see the light bulbs going on, and people are getting it.”

About SERTC: The Security and Emergency Response Training Center (SERTC) at MxV Rail is a globally recognized program that brings transportation experts and first responders together in a one-of-a-kind, fully immersive training experience. In its first 35 years, SERTC trained more than 74,000 professionals worldwide in safety protocols and rapid response for a variety of scenarios. SERTC is a member of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC). As a world leader in Hazardous Materials Response to all forms of surface transportation incidents, SERTC courses offer hands-on learning in a real-world environment.

About MxV Rail: MxV Rail, formerly TTCI, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Association of American Railroads established to support the development and safe deployment of innovative technologies to increase the safety, reliability, and efficiency of the railroad industry. The team offers a full suite of advisory and research services, including training, maintaining standards, consulting, research and testing.