Local, state, and federal first responders can join a new online professional network from the Homeland Security Department’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) to connect and share advice on how to best prepare for and respond to all hazards. First Responder Communities of Practice http://communities.firstresponder.gov is a Web site sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology (S&T) Directorate’s First Responder Technologies (R-Tech) program, whereby vetted, active and retired first responders, emergency response professionals and federal, state, local, and tribal homeland security officials can collaborate on matters in support of their various homeland security missions. Members of this professional network and community collaboration platform can engage each other locally, as well as from around the country and work on critical homeland security programs, projects, and initiatives in a secure environment.  Members build and participate in Communities to share  information, ideas, lessons learned and best practices and to engage with others in a more efficient and effective manner to prepare for all hazards.  The platform leverages advanced tools such as wikis, blogs and Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds to assist with the creation, collection, and sharing of information and to assist with planning and training efforts.  Through information sharing and active participation in communities of practice, members are able to leverage each other’s experiences to meet mission objectives. Active and retired first responders, emergency response professionals, and federal, tribal, state, and local homeland security officials may request a Communities of Practice account.  Prospective members must be vetted through a process that involves contacting a sponsor to verify their professional affiliation.

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