Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Adding CSHO credentials from TEEX boosts family business

John M. Harrell has worked in and around the oil and gas industry for much of his life. Employed in risk management for 20 years, he saw an opportunity to serve several industries through a focus on safety. Partnering with his son John R. Harrell, who had been working in the aerospace industry for over 12 years, the Harrells found the perfect path to their goal through the TEEX Certified Safety and Health Official™ (CSHO) program.

Initially named John Harrell Safety, the father and son team renamed their business Axis Safety Consultants, LLC, after receiving their CSHO credentials. The company, based out of Boerne, Texas, specializes in safety training, and outfitting safety trailers and “cool down” trailers for job sites. Initially, the fact that Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) is a part of The Texas A&M University System, along with the recommendation of a friend who had received CSHO – General Industry credentials through the TEEX training program, caught their attention. “After looking at programs offered through several other colleges and universities, we liked the connection between TEEX and Texas A&M University, so we chose the TEEX CSHO track.”

Because of the quality and depth of safety training available through TEEX, and the variety of courses and tracks offered, there are many options for individuals seeking CSHO credentials. The Harrells chose the Quik-Trac construction and oil field endorsements. “I have seen times where one industry will be doing well, and the other not so well, so we wanted to try to have our bases covered as a business,” said John M. They were able to train in First Aid, CPR and H2S Instructor Development, all adding to their expertise and business value.

The Quik-Trac program allows safety and health professionals to earn their CSHO certificate in as few as four months by taking classes at a single location. John M. said that this fast track program worked well for them because of its flexibility.

The TEEX courses were top-notch, John said. “The instructors were a wealth of knowledge and experience, and they all represented the Texas A&M System very well,” he added. “The instructors had a way of letting us know that they really cared about us and our futures; they did their best to make sure we walked out of the class with the knowledge we needed to be successful.” 

The CSHO credentials have set them apart from many and given them the confidence to succeed. “We are now more observant of construction job sites and oil field practices. We have helped our customers implement simple safety measures that are often overlooked, such as having first aid kits in their trucks, and maintaining and storing tools as recommended by the manufacturer,” John notes. “Additionally, the TEEX CSHO training has helped us pay more attention and recognize potential hazards in the field.”

Just as a friend recommended this course to him, he plans to recommend the TEEX CSHO program to others. “It’s like being part of a brotherhood.”

-         -- Alison Sawyer, Communications Specialist, Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service

Thursday, June 5, 2014

TEEX Explosive Breacher course is the bomb.

Explosive entry continues to grow in American Law Enforcement, and it can be a viable tactical option for high-risk warrants and hostage rescues. The 40-hour TEEX Explosive Breacher Entry course is designed to increase the knowledge of this tactic and its appropriate application, and to provide hands-on skills training for SWAT, Tactical, and Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams.

During this five-day explosive entry training course, participants learn to construct distraction devices and the proper use of other explosives by conducting approximately 60 detonations, using various amounts of explosives, on Class 1 Steel doors as well as solid wood and hollow core doors. The training helps to ensure proper logging, placement and application of methods used to gain entry in a safe but effective manner. A recent participant describes his experience:
As a bomb tech in California, I have attended a large number of schools. I am taking the time to write this evaluation because I am so impressed with the quality of this explosive breacher school. To begin with, Kelly Boaz and Joseph Littlejohn were the perfect instructors for this course. Their personal knowledge and experience went far beyond ‘subject matter experts.’ Even with their tactical background, they communicated effectively and were great teachers… 
There were at least six different types of charges for students to build. There were at least five different types of doors… It goes without saying that we as students completed a lot of breaches. Yet I was amazed that I learned something new with every shot we built.

Last, where the true application of this information began was in the ‘shoot house.’…The scenario selected was spot on and demonstrated the need for Bomb and SWAT teams to work together in the future. 
The use of simulations elevated the realism to an unprecedented level and really drove into my mind the reasons for tactical awareness... I must say I am very impressed and would recommend this class to all supervisors and outside agencies I work with.  Well done. 
Nicholas Kennedy, Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, California
About TEEX

World renowned for its hands-on, customized training, the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) offers a wide range of technical and skills training programs in emergency response and Homeland Security. TEEX provides training and technical assistance to people from all 50 states, five U.S. territories, the District of Columbia and 79 countries. The agency is a member of The Texas A&M University System and has delivered law enforcement extension training for more than 70 years.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Developing a Workforce: Consider the options

It is no secret that the manufacturing sector in the United States has been declining for several years; however, momentum is turning around. According to the National Association of Manufacturers’ website, manufacturers contributed $1.87 trillion to the economy in 2012, up from $1.73 trillion in 2011. This was 11.9 percent of GDP. For every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.48 is added to the economy, the highest multiplier effect of any economic sector.

It is obvious that for the U.S. to remain a powerhouse in the global economy, the manufacturing sector must continue to grow. If you are a business owner, you know that increasing your workforce creates many challenges, particularly when special skill sets are needed, such as welding. When advanced job skills are required, such as welding exotic metals in different positions, an employer has two options.

First, the company can attempt to hire someone who already possesses the needed knowledge, skills, and abilities, but that individual is typically in high demand and may require a high salary just to get them through the door. Plus, retention of these workers is difficult since they will likely have multiple opportunities available to them.

Second, an employer can develop a highly skilled workforce from within by hiring a person with few or basic skills, but with the right kind of character and potential. Then the difficulty is how to train the newly hired workers in the skillsets the company needs.

One alternative is to place the new hire in the plant, along-side a more experienced worker for on-the-job training (OJT). But this could take many months and reduces the productivity of the experienced personnel. A second alternative is to hire graduates of a trade school or community college who have the basic skill knowledge. However, this still requires a lengthy OJT process for the new hire to learn the specialized skills and techniques needed by the company.

Now there is a third option: on-site, fast-track training for entry-level employees that is customized to the skillsets the company needs.

Your Training Partner for On-site Training

This innovative option to developing your workforce is to contract with a training partner that will take your new and existing workforce and develop the exact skill set needed to satisfy your specific requirements. This revolutionary new attitude toward training can take new hires with no skills and turn them into a productive labor force within weeks, not months.

The key aspect of this type of training involves providing an intensive, hands-on class right at the start. Once the new hires have been certified to the required level, then the on-the-job training can begin, with much less time, supervision, and hand-holding than is normally required. The training partner brings the training and all equipment needed to your facility to maximize skills development. A real bonus to this type of training is that it instills commitment and loyalty on the part of the trainees and the hiring company. The trainees are more productive and retention rates are vastly improved.

Mobile Outreach Skills Training (M.O.S.T.)

One example of this on-site training partnership is the Advanced Manufacturing Skills Training provided by Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) Knowledge Engineering. The M.O.S.T.® (Mobile Outreach Skills Training) Certified Welder program is a 2- or 3-week course customized to a company’s products. Certifications are offered for carbon steel and exotic materials in 1G through 6G positions. All training is delivered on-site at the manufacturing facility, utilizing a state-of-the-art welding simulator and expert instructors on the M.O.S.T. mobile unit.

Since this intensive skills training program began in Florida in 2008, the completion rate has been 94% with a 90-day retention rate of 91%.

If you are interested in learning more about the M.O.S.T.® Certified Welder program, visit our website or contact Lisa Mutchler at: lisa.mutchler@teex.tamu.edu, 979-458-6722 or (800) 541-7149

Friday, January 10, 2014

Finding the right stuff: Selecting the right search and rescue dog

Plant explosions, tornadoes, wildfires, and other events made 2013 a busy year for rescue teams.  No matter what the situation, everyone’s safety and success depends on the dedication and training of each teammate – including our canine companions. Search and rescue dogs, like those in Texas Task Force 1’s canine group, are often the first to respond to a crisis or disaster.  Have you ever wondered how these dogs “make the team,” or what it takes to find just the right search dog? We’ll take a look at key characteristics of a good search dog, and some of the main factors in the selection process.

Youthful exuberance or mellow maturity?

One of the first decisions when selecting a search dog is whether to choose a puppy or an adult.  Each has pros and cons to consider when looking for the right match for an individual or organization.

Cuddly, cute, fun, playful…these words come to mind when thinking of a puppy. These characteristics can make working with puppies enjoyable, and of course, there can be a wide variety of puppies from which to choose. Since becoming a search dog is a bit like earning a college degree, starting the training early can also help.
On the flip side, puppies can only learn so much at a time – like kids (and some adults!) they have shorter attention spans and they will take longer to train. More time has to be spent initially just learning manners and simple commands, which adult dogs may have already learned. “Puppy tests” are poor predictors, so sometimes a great deal of training time has already been spent when we realize that a particular pup just isn’t cut out for the job. Also, puppies may develop physical or temperament problems as they get older.  

If a puppy is selected, the key is to select a puppy from parents who have good kids!

Choosing an adult search dog offers a whole different set of tradeoffs. In a nutshell, what you see is what you get. Adult search dogs offer a high prediction of success, reduced training time, and the ability to screen for physical problems. Disadvantages include a limited number of quality candidates to choose from, and in some cases limited knowledge about the dog’s early years and genetic history for breeding purposes. Some of these can be overcome by choosing a dog from a breeder who has raised them from a puppy, but many good candidates can be found at shelters, or even in your own backyard!
Selecting a sociable dog with a drive to succeed

Screening tips
Before beginning training, a careful selection process is essential in locating the right dog for this difficult job. To make the first cut, the canine candidate must be in good physical condition, at an ideal weight and maturity, and able to handle themselves in unfamiliar settings. During a screening process, it is important to look for sociability; composure; comfort around other dogs and people; and drive. These characteristics are important so that the dog can do its job in the often uncomfortable and unfamiliar working environments faced by disaster search and rescue canines. One way to screen for composure is have dogs search for a toy in a novel setting, and observe the dog’s willingness and reaction to the challenge.

Instinct, Drive and Focus
Ideally, a search dog can be found who was “born for the job”; one who has great instincts and a drive to perform.  To measure drive, a handler should assess the dog’s willingness to hunt for a non-visible toy for at least one minute, while the dog is in a typical disaster search environment.  A reliable measure of drive is independent possession. For this assessment, the handler plays with the dog, and once the dog is engaged with a toy, the handler ignores the dog for 1 minute. A dog that plays vigorously with the toy, guards it, or maintains focus on it for the entire minute that the handler is disengaged is a dog with the drive to succeed. If you’ve properly screened a dog…they practically train themselves!

Testing and Training
After the screening process, testing and certification is the final phase before a search dog goes on the job. The Certification Evaluation is performed by FEMA US&R (Urban Search and Rescue) teams about nine times a year. In order to pass the certification test, Canine Search Specialists and their canine partners need to search two search areas (simulating disaster sites) and locate the victims completely hidden in the rubble.  The teams have only 20 minutes to search each rubble pile! The certified teams need to retest every three years to maintain their deployability status. In order to attend one of these evaluations, testing teams need to be part of a FEMA (federal) or SUSAR (state) US&R Task Force.

Once the testing is complete, the handler will continue to evaluate the dog’s performance and incorporate lessons learned into training sessions. Because of a proven screening process, training time, which previously took 1-2 years, has been reduced to about six months. The canine members of TX-TF1 train at Disaster City®, which is also a FEMA-recognized training facility. With proper training and certification, the K9 will now be ready to respond … prepared to search for victims of the next disaster.
For more information about TX-TF1 K9 Training, contact Susann Brown at Susann.brown@teex.tamu.edu or at 979-458-5681.

by Susann Brown, K9 Training Manager, Texas Task Force 1.