Disaster Discourse: The Hagerty Blog

Going Virtual: Houston CCTA Train-the-Trainer Course

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to major changes in the way our society conducts business — from transitioning to virtual workspaces to introducing contactless delivery. As described previously, virtual environments have been used to conduct vital trainings and exercises – to keep communities and organizations prepared for hazards they may face. While training and exercises typically allow participants to play through a scenario in-person, by transitioning online, teams can test their virtual communication and connectivity capabilities. Throughout the pandemic, Hagerty has been working with our clients to identify, plan, and deliver virtual training and exercise opportunities — allowing them to continue preparing for the unexpected.

Success Story: Houston CCTA Program “Train-the-Trainer” Course

A recent success story involves Hagerty’s support of the City of Houston, Texas, in the delivery of a “Train-the-Trainer” course as part of the Houston Region’s Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attack (CCTA) program. The course was originally designed to take place in-person and be delivered in both March and May of 2020. When the pandemic brought in-person activities to a halt, the Houston CCTA program was paused as the team determined the best path forward. Ultimately, the team decided to conduct a trial Train-the-Trainer session in a virtual format for the Houston CCTA steering committee and select trainers in the region. This trial session was developed to determine whether virtual training would be valuable to responders and emergency management professionals in the region.

The Hagerty team utilized a custom interface on the Adobe Connect platform to conduct the Train-the-Trainer trial course in mid-November. The course material was divided into three modules delivered over a four-hour period. Informational briefings were combined with breakout activities to introduce participants to CCTAs, command and control in CCTAs, and CCTA response—including the role of Emergency Operations Centers, Joint Information Centers and the Joint Information System, Fusion Centers, and the Multi-agency Coordination System.

Participants learned about key concepts of CCTA events using real-world scenarios as examples.

Allowing for Interactive Collaboration

The virtual platform enabled training participants to engage with instructors and each other to discuss operational coordination and communication during CCTA response. During one breakout activity, participants had the option to use interactive features on the Adobe Connect platform that could identify coordination points and areas of interest on a map of a CCTA scenario. Using pre-designed discussion questions, course facilitators were able to guide participants through a discussion about response to the CCTA. This allowed participants across jurisdictions and emergency response functions to discuss in small groups how they would collaborate, communicate, and coordinate efforts during a CCTA response. By having discussions like these during the training course, trainers will be better able to emphasize the need for close collaboration among responders while teaching their own courses.

Identifying Solutions to Real-World Challenges

In addition to introducing participants to CCTA concepts, the course also used real-world examples to introduce common CCTA response challenges and proposed solutions. This activity prepared participants to anticipate common communication and information sharing hurdles experienced by CCTA responders and highlighted how these challenges might be overcome during an actual incident response.

Charting a Course for the Future

The course’s participants were tested on their knowledge before and after the training to measure their understanding of the concepts covered and, despite the shift to virtual delivery, participants showed an in-depth understanding of CCTA response and command and control concepts following the training. Participants specifically felt that the training was well structured and organized — a vote of confidence for the use of platforms like Adobe Connect in the future.

Using the feedback provided from the Houston CCTA steering committee and the select trainers who participated in the trial training course, Hagerty is restructuring the Train-the-Trainer course to be even better suited to a virtual environment. While large, in-person activities remain unfeasible, virtual trainings can help fill the gap and, more importantly, provide new opportunities for innovative collaboration. As demonstrated by the Houston CCTA program, Hagerty continues to find ways to deliver innovative solutions to address our clients’ needs during this dynamic time.


Whether you are designing a new training or exercise or want to convert an existing one into a virtual environment our team at Hagerty looks forward to supporting your needs. Hagerty’s Exercise Planning Team is comprised of HSEEP-certified personnel and Master Exercise Practitioners (MEPs). Our team will work with you to determine the best training or exercise solution given your desired objectives, outcomes, and resources.

To learn more about Hagerty’s services and how we can support your training and exercise needs with a customized approach, please contact us.


The following exercise and training resources are intended to support your organization in the search for a new normal.


Amanda Wight is the Lead for Hagertys Exercise Portfolio and Lead for Hagertys Active Threat Portfolio. Amanda has supported communities nationwide on developing, delivering, and assessing exercises on a wide range of subject matters. Having conducted more than 35 exercises in the past five years that vary in size and complexity, she has expertise in the development and execution of large, multi-site, multi-jurisdictional, multi-discipline exercises.

Anne Armstrong is an Associate supporting Hagerty’s Exercise, Active Threat, and Continuity portfolios. Anne has worked with public and private sector clients across the country to improve their disaster readiness, business resilience, and continuity capabilities. Prior to joining Hagerty, Anne worked on federal policy and strategy in the non-profit space and at the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Policy and completed a Boren Fellowship in Amman, Jordan.  

Sam Currie is an Associate with Hagerty Consulting who supports the Active Threat and Exercise Portfolios. Sam has supported clients across the country in building and the execution of multiple exercises for active threat and transit clients. He has a wide range of experience with discussion based and operational exercises, all varying in size and subject matters.