EDS training and certification more accessible than ever

Through harnessing new technologies and creating an ever-expanding library of courses and learning paths, the territorial emergency disaster services (EDS) team has brought training to a new level.

The online learning platform that was developed during the pandemic catapulted EDS into the virtual realm and proved to be a popular and effective way to connect with and train personnel including volunteers, employees and officers. Continuing to build on the platform, the EDS team has produced a user-friendly training experience that appeals to a diverse demographic.

Steve Johnson and Karen Hanton (center) are congratulated by Sam Amick and Kevin Ellers upon receiving their emotional and spiritual care certificates.

“The pandemic forced us to take a hard look at our disaster training program to see how we can adapt and make it better,” said Kevin Ellers, territorial EDS director. “The outcome has been great…It has expanded our reach and allowed us to train people in more remote areas.”

EDS Training Coordinator Micheal Stack’s background in technology has enabled him to develop simplified ways to collect and house data and increase communication and collaboration among EDS leaders in the territory. He also has developed online tools to help in the streamlining and organization of training materials so they’re more accessible and inclusive.

“If we want to do the most good, we need to be thoughtful and considerate of the fact that people learn differently,” said Micheal, who indicated the online courses include videos, reading and hands-on portions to appeal to every type of learner.

HOPE Animal Assisted Crisis Response handlers are trained in emotional and spiritual care.

Through the revamped online training hub, individuals are able to pursue areas of interest, such as food service, logistics and coordination or chaplaincy, through learning paths. Getting started is simple. By going to the website, a person can create an account, then complete an introductory course on The Salvation Army which explains the organization’s mission and EDS ministry. Next is a background check, territorial registry check and Safe from Harm training. Once these prerequisites are finished and approved, trainees are able to move on and complete as many training modules, or learning paths, as they want.

Each learning path consists of several courses. Some subjects can be completed entirely online while others require in-person practical application for certification. For example, after completing all of the courses in the learning path for food service, an individual will be assigned to serve with an experienced team to ensure they have experience in food safety measures like storage, safe temperatures and hygiene.

In-person food training

“The goal is to make sure that people can do a lot of the training online, at home, on their phone, whatever works best for them, and then come in person for a skills assessment and practical application,” said Micheal. “When you think about training, something that’s important is consolidating, making it easily accessible, putting it in smaller, bite-size packages so that people won’t get overwhelmed.”

Upon successful completion of selected learning paths, newly certified EDS personnel are issued a badge which serves as a photo identification with The Salvation Army. It includes a QR code that a site leader can scan to access training records and assign personnel accordingly.

“We’re continuing to create avenues and opportunities to work closely with the field to meet their specific needs,” concluded Micheal. “At the same time, we’re rolling out more courses online and learning paths which give people a checklist of what they need to do to be credentialed for a specific area.”

Visit edscentral.org to get started on your EDS certifications!




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