This entry was posted in Just My Thoughts, News Worthy Mentionables and tagged Animal Health, FMD, NIAA, Tabletop. Countywide Exercise Prepares Agencies for Coordinated Emergency Response - Grand Teton National Park (U.S. An assembly of local, state, and federal government officials and staff members, along with non-governmental organizations, recently completed an emergency response simulation exercise based upon a mock wildland fire scenario in the greater Jackson Hole area.
Headed up by Teton County Emergency Management Coordinator Rich Ochs, the exercise included 28 agencies and 54 participants.
The responders in Newark were for the most part cordial made effort to take the simulation seriously; but it was noted that there were flaws in the design and execution of the exercise as a whole. Ali Gheith is the Director of MPA in Emergency and Disaster Management at Metropolitan College of New York. The MCNY students all came away seeing first-hand the important role emergency managers and first responders play in events which test our preparedness and resolve. When Hurricane Sandy was approaching New York City, DOHMH had a partial activation, and I stayed late that Friday night to receive just-in-time training and serve as a Desk Officer to the Planning Section Chief who oversaw many aspects of the DOHMH emergency response.
Right now, I am working with the OEPR Evaluations group writing post-disaster survey questions and learning about how important data collection is for emergency management.
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program is a program that was originally developed in Los Angeles as a means of preparing for the aftermath of earthquakes, and then was adopted and expanded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to include preparation for a variety of hazards. Credit was given to the Citywide Incident Management System (CIMS), which was instrumental in maintaining structure and accountability in the operations and in the various agencies that responded to the cascading events. King Kenyon International Emergency Services similarly included advice and teachings from an immensely experienced emergency manager. Supplemented by the breakaway sessions which covered topics as cyber security, disaster planning and communications in emergencies, the event allowed for the representatives from the MCNY community to be kept abreast with current and future trends. A response exercise should be a tool utilized to identify effective efforts and inefficiencies in response to these changes.
It was however clear that a lot of planning went into making the exercise a reality, and that responding agencies are continuously pushing themselves to protect the City. Professor Matthew Khaled who is serving as the Constructive Action (CA) professor for the Purpose 4 students, along with Director Ali Gheith who served as the Exercise Director played important roles in making the exercise achieve its objectives. These FSE are vitally important for students of emergency management who have learned to be sharp and recognize weaknesses that other volunteers may miss. Mitchell believes that in order to be resilient entities need to plan, train, exercise and drill. However, creating a bottom line, no-win exercise situation can negatively affect the overall preparedness program by diminishing and detracting from the goal of improved response.
An exercise should support a positive response team synergy by validating successes, yet create a path to increased response capabilities and improve targeted training efforts. And pull your auto emergency management tabletop exercises i've also added some folks need to survive on this Earth. Real world exercise scenarios can often highlight potential deficiencies (meaning failures) in response plans and procedures, comprehension of individual roles and responsibilities, and partnership coordination.
The exercise, which was based on three wildfires and their impacts on the communities of Jackson, Teton Village, and areas of Grand Teton National Park, was designed to develop joint decision-making relationships between the various agencies.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) participated in the exercise, which helped all agencies understand the role of NGOs in restoring basic health and social services following a disaster. The scope of participants and agencies involved provided an opportunity to build effective working relationships, learn what resources are available and establish an understanding of roles and responsibilities before an incident occurs.
In the wake of the second Fort Hood shooting, fortifying the mental health and coping capacity of veterans and their families should be an important goal of emergency managers. Professionalism, focus and organization were evident in the various agencies that responded: this reinforced confidence in how the city is preparing for emergencies and disasters.
MCNY was well represented at the 2013 Emergency Management Summit which was held at the Hilton Hotel on May 1st. The 21-hour CERT training class covers basic skills that are important to know in a disaster when emergency services are not available. Since beginning at the Office of Emergency Preparedness and Response (OEPR) within the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), I have been asked to contribute substantially to a number of projects across multiple divisions.
The exercise was the culmination on a lot of hard work which centered on drafting documents, planning and executing, to ensure that the exercise was seamless.
Under the supervision of the Lead Controller, the Safety Personnel and Controllers, volunteers were directed to make the scene be realistic for the responding agencies, a feature that added an element of realism to the exercise that the responders appreciated. Drafting the After Action Report (AAR) is next on the agenda for the Purpose Four Students as the lessons learned can be passed on to other students to ensure that exercises of this nature can continue to get better. The discussion emphasized that designing exercises strictly to create stressful, non-attainable objectives, is counter-productive. The Emergency and Disaster Management Program at the Metropolitan College of New York is now teaming up with the Student Veterans Organization at the College to bring Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) workshops to veterans and their families. On March 26, 2013 students, professors and emergency management practitioners from the public and private sectors were edified by a consummate professional about the importance of having an Emergency Operations Plan (EOP).
This is when debris-clogged or damaged roads, disrupted communications or a high volume of calls may prevent access by emergency response personnel. Such opportunities which are exclusive to students from the EMD program at MCNY are a testament to the hands on approach to emergency management that the institution prides itself on. Conducting a challenging exercise outside the scope of response capabilities can also create a flawed negative reputation and unwarranted fallouts from the failed endeavor. On March 29th, 2014, Purpose 4 students in the Emergency and Disaster Program got a chance to apply some of the knowledge they have acquired during their time at MCNY.
In the immediate aftermath of an emergency or a disaster many individuals usually turn to leaders of their faith for comfort and guidance. A recent LinkedIn discussion highlighted the issue of exercises being designed entirely for success. Once completed, observations and recommendations will be forwarded to the Exercise Planners.
The same approach was used in the second portion of the Tabletop Exercise which focused on activating the COOP plan. My time as a Solomon Fellow has been the most hands-on, practical and educational experience I have had in the course of my training in emergency and disaster management.
While the action of conducting an exercise may validate regulatory requirements, exercises should be designed to test response plans and training effectiveness.

Make-up artists were on site and did a great job of moulaging the victims prior to the exercise. This may entail helping someone accept a referral to professional Mental Health services, or supporting someone until emergency care can arrive. The ability to document and communicate actions, management decision, and track resources, using standardized ICS forms and the Emergency response Plan: Participants should record processes and implement procedures per regulatory requirement(s) and company standards.
At the time, I was just completing my Masters in emergency and disaster management, and it was an incredible opportunity to observe the entire life cycle of this disaster. This came in the form of a Tabletop Exercise which involved students from other purposes contributing. The exercises in questions were ones that were specifically designed to match response capabilities, not necessarily challenge participants and established preparedness efforts.
In preparation for these exercises, companies should develop exercise-planning documents, including participant and controller’s packages that contain exercise objectives, scenarios, ground rules, and simulation scripts.
Though prevented from using Resorts World Casino as the site in this Tabletop Exercise, the scenario which was used incorporated many elements and approaches included in the final products for this client. The unique paradox of success through failures is the key to overall response plan improvement, especially within exercises. The simulated exercise not only tested the preparedness of agencies tasked with responding to such events, but also contributed to students gaining valuable insights into how response and coordination go hand-in-hand.
These guidelines, at a minimum, should be provided to all participants prior to the exercise to allow for an understanding of expectations.
Being able to not only see how meticulous Emergency Managers must be, but also being allowed to sit in on a Hotwash, where leaders of various agencies relayed their concerns and satisfaction with the FSE, revealed invaluable insights about our state of preparedness. The hard work and attention to detail resulted in a successful exercise which left fellow students and professors very impressed. Like in years pass, MCNY students actively participated and wounded up gaining a greater appreciation of the extent to which emergency managers and first responders go to protect lives, critical resources and key resources and the city. Students in attendance were very engaged and found that the exercise made them consider aspects of response they would not have considered under different circumstances.
For emergency managers the true depth of specifics in planning a training and exercise event was more appreciated.
Companies sometimes promote their exercises results through public relations campaigns that highlight their dedication to overall preparedness advancements and a commitment to safety. The key speakers of the symposium consisted of emergency managers from Louisiana, The Port Authority, engineers from the Underwriters Laboratory (UL), local and state police departments and experts from various insurance companies. St Martin from New Orleans proceeded to talk about funding from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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