The DNR will benefit from nationally standardized training in boating safety and tactical maneuvers, Coleman said. The agency previously used its own system for training officers, which, he said, wasn't as comprehensive as the national certification.
"The need for national certification is a lesson learned from Katrina; all of the states were coming in to help -- and they were all doing their own procedures," Coleman said. "The right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing. The Coast Guard realized it needed a common training system, which is where NASBLA comes in."
The officers certified this week will be entered into a national database to assist other states after disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy.
Coleman said the training, though, will benefit West Virginia the most. For large public events along the river and visits to Charleston from national figures, the training will make the DNR ready for any of the scenarios outlined during the week.
"We've had a lot of dignitaries come through here -- the president, Hillary Clinton -- and the first stop they always seem to make is the Capitol, which is right on the river," he said. "You're constantly escorting barges through here; it's exactly like what happens here. The priority is here."
The DNR officers' training this week has been based at the West Virginia State Police Academy, and the agency's tactical boat exercises have accompanied classroom training centered on drug eradication and homeland security.
Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.