Educating Foreign Companies in U.S. on Homeland Security

Two faculty members from the Department of Security Studies recently helped an international company with offices in Houston to understand better Homeland Security issues and emergency management practices in the United States.

Drs. Magdalena Denham and Jim Dozier were invited to present at a Security Conferences at the Houston offices of Sinopec. Sinopec is the second largest energy company in China and its leaders wanted to learn more about emergency and crisis management as well as the legal system in the U.S.

“It was an awareness program,” said Dr. Denham. “They wanted to know how law enforcement works in the United States and what to do if they face hazards and threats and who they need to reach out to.”

About 50 to 70 company officials attended the presentation, which also included a Retired Lt. Commander from the U.S. Coast Guard from the Galveston Region. Dr. Denham discussed the National Incident Management System used in the U.S. and online training that is available in the model. She also assisted the company on how to create a local footprint in the community by joining the local Energy Security Councils and by getting involved in emergency management planning and practices through the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Among those in attendance from Sinopec’s Beijing, Houston and Washington offices were Zhu Xue Hai, Director of the Overseas Security Division, Foreign Affairs Bureau, and Sujuan He, Senior Advisor for the American Division.

Because Houston is such an international city, this training may be valuable for educating foreign companies in emergency practices in the U.S. For example, BHP Billiton, a multi-national company from Australia, learned lessons the hard way when a dam collapsed at their iron ore mining company in Brazil. The collapse flooded local villages and at least 28 people were lost. Company officials never planned for such a disaster and did not have lodging for its own employees or emergency responders. The event turned into a public relations nightmare for the company.

Dr. Denham said the Department of Security Studies can serve as a valuable resource for companies in the Houston region, both for training and for future employees. The faculty offer a wide range of expertise in homeland security issues and the Master’s Program in Homeland Security provides student trained in an all-hazards approach. In addition, the department has two certificate programs, each of which can be earned in one year, for emergency management or critical infrastructure protection.

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