Allen Lendley

Allen Lendley, director of Coffee County Emergency Management Agency, has begun his training in the National Emergency Management Advanced Academy. The program offers top-level certification in the emergency management field. As part of the course, Lendley will complete a research project on mass gatherings in post 9/11 world, focusing on the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.

Allen Lendley, director of Coffee County Emergency Management Agency, has begun his training in the National Emergency Management Advanced Academy.

Offering top-level certification in the emergency field, the advanced academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland, reinforces qualities and training needed to lead emergency management programs. The training provides management theories and concepts to prepare professionals for responding to emergency situations.

Lendley applied for the program about a year ago and recently found out he was accepted.

“They (the academy) have a committee that pulls applications from the entire nation and Canada and they put together a 40-person class every year,” Lendley said. “I was accepted this time around.”

To earn the certification, participants attend four week-long courses at the academy in Emmitsburg and complete a research project.

Lendley attended the first course in October.

“I met some amazing and very intelligent folks in my cohort,” he said. “We all quickly bonded.”

The next three courses are set for January, April and August.

“That is one of the top-level certifications in our field,” Lendley said. “The program creates better leaders in our field, so we can move emergency management forward into the future.”

Fewer than 100 individuals in Tennessee hold advanced emergency management certification, he added.

“It’s not just emergency managers that can apply for the program,” he said.

The program is for first-response department heads with a tie to emergency management, such as professionals at healthcare facilities or higher education facilities.

“It’s a broad group of folks,” he said. “For instance, there is a lady in my class who is the emergency manager for UCLA. There is an Alaska state trooper and there is a lady from Canada that works at a university.”

The program brings together professionals working on local, state and federal level, he added.

The participants work within collaborative environment on projects and establish a network of peers.

The academy is designed for emergency management managers with a minimum three years of experience in an emergency management position.

Students gain skills critical to performing emergency management responsibilities, such as program management and oversight, effective communication, integrated collaboration, strategic thinking, along with completing a research project one month prior to attending the final course, according to Lendley.


Catalyst for change

The research project is the main focus of the program, said Lendley.

The project provides students the opportunity to demonstrate their critical thinking abilities. Students apply the key learning concepts from the academy curriculum relative to their own strengths and weaknesses, their organizations and their own performance environment.

“My research project will be on mass gatherings in post 9/11 world,” Lendley said. “I will focus on safety and security standards for events in a post 9/11 world.”

With the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, held annually in Coffee County, positioned as one of the largest festivals in the country, “it seems like an excellent fit” for the research paper, said Lendley.

“I felt that’s a really good project for me to do,” he said. “So I’m going to look nationwide at various mass gathering events, such as music festivals, NASCAR races and football games.”

Lendley plans to study the security standards and processes the other venues have in place to ensure “we are doing everything we can to make our event safe,” he said.

“But also, I will look at the laws that back that up in a post 9/11 world,” Lendley said. “Our law in Tennessee was written in 1971, I believe, and it hasn’t been updated. There are a lot of things that need to be changed in that law. Hopefully, this will be a catalyst for some of the legislatures to look at that particular law and try to update that law and make it more efficient.”

The National Emergency Management Advanced program is federally sponsored, with the courses and lodging free for participants, said Lendley.

Elena Cawley can be reached at