AST Digital Magazine July/August 2016 - Page 60

Volume 6 rity – the U.S. Coast Guard may not be staffed nor equipped to handle the next major maritime disaster by itself. Whether we are hit with a catastrophic oil spill immediately off our shores, near-simultaneous hurricanes flooding major population centers on our Coasts, a foreign-flagged tanker ship dropping inflatable speedboats loaded with armed terrorists and explosives bound for our shores, or any other grand-scale maritime disaster, there simply may not be enough U.S. Coast Guard personnel nor resources to handle the threat. July-Aug 2016 Edition The NASBLA BOAT Program is innovative in that it worked around the insurmountable financial and logistical impossibilities of expanding the U.S. Coast Guard to meet the mission, and instead created a model to train federal, tribal, state, county and local maritime responders to a single standard and make use of assets already in place. Prior to the advent of the NASBLA BOAT Program, all distinct State and local agencies employed different tactics and even different terminology across different jurisdictions, so there was limited interoperability when disasters compelled different law enforcement and other maritime response agencies to work together. Now, because of this program, thousands of maritime responders have been trained to work together under a single national response standard while addressing and preventing The NASBLA BOAT Program was conceived from a need to address that quandary. Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. Coast Guard had been trying to figure out a way to get more boats and personnel in the water in response to a terror attack, and when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005, it broadened the need to address all hazards. Katrina taught three defining lessons: 1. Maritime agencies are going to have to work together 2. Agencies have to evolve to do a better job in the next disaster 3. Agencies have to engage in strict evaluation of both training and experience, to repeat the successes while not repeating the mistakes. With those lessons in mind, NASBLA, representing all 56 United States and territories, went into overdrive with the U.S. Coast Guard to develop a national program of standardized training, typing, and credentialing across diverse enforcement agencies, and the first NASBLA BOAT Program course graduated its students in October of 2009. emergencies. To learn more, please see the following references: Link to historic MOU signed by USCG and NASBLA, recognizing the BOAT Program as the National Standard of training for maritime law enforcement officers and emergency responders. Link to Proceedings article, “Just Add Water – A Recipe for Border Security” (Page 45) Article on how “Training Saves Lives” in Small Craft Advisory Article on “The Power of Partnerships – A Coast Guard Officer’s Perspective” in Small Craft Advisory (Page 16) Good luck to NASBLA on becoming a Winner of the 2016 American Security Today’s Homeland Security Awards Program! 60