Hurricane rehearsal gets into the nitty-gritty
April 5, 2012
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- On the second day of U.S. Army North's interagency hurricane response drill, emergency response leaders went step-by-step through response scenarios in a war-gaming process meant to weed-out ineffective and inefficient processes.
The 2012 Army North/Joint Force Land Component Command Interagency Hurricane Rehearsal of Concept teamed up leaders from the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Army North, the National Guard Bureau, and many others to create efficiencies and best practices in hurricane response April 4 in advance of the 2012 hurricane season.
"This rehearsal of concept is tailored to provide all participants with an opportunity to promote mutual understanding and foster greater preparedness within our communities," said Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, commanding general of U.S. Army North and senior commander of Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis. "The partnerships we continue forging among our respective organizations will enable us to better meet the needs of those affected by disasters."
During a busy day of disaster planning and response, leaders responded to simulations of two category IV hurricanes that resulted in three landfalls in Puerto Rico, Brownsville, Texas, and the mid-central Florida region.
The hurricane response drill tested military and civilian leaders in many of the emergency response functions of the National Response Framework and in their ability to quickly and efficiently respond to a large-scale natural disaster.
In advance of the simulated storms, logistics planners from the Federal Emergency Management Agency coordinated with others to preposition food, water, commonly used shelter items, generators and other necessary resources in advance of storm tracks and then shifted resources as storm tracks shifted and intensified.
"The ROC drill helps us to coordinate logistics requirements and support to the survivors of a hurricane," said Buzz Hackett, director of logistics, plans and exercises, FEMA.
Joint regional medical planners from U.S. Northern Command coordinated with Army North defense coordinating officers for aero-medical evacuations and other missions.
"A large portion of hurricane response is evacuations," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Leighann Erdman, Northeast branch chief joint regional medical planning officer, U.S. Northern Command. "We augment defense coordinating officers as medical subject matter experts and interact with state and federal partners. During the Army North ROC drill, we were able to explain what we bring to the table and how we can assist in developing an operational picture."
Regional emergency coordinators from the U.S. Public Health Service worked with state emergency response officials to plan deployments of National Disaster Medical Assistance Teams and other medical considerations to aid local medical facilities in affected areas.
"Army North's hurricane response drill allowed us the opportunity to better relate our mission and capabilities to many of our partners in the Department of Defense and to those in other agencies," said Commander Mark Byrd, FEMA region IV regional emergency coordinator, U.S. Public Health Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The day's simulations had a two-fold benefit to Army North and emergency response leaders from around the nation, said Chuck Dumas, training and exercise support specialist, U.S. Army North.
"The simulation reduces the cost of training and allows Army North to partner military and civilian emergency response leaders to manage, control and command forces and resources in order to achieve realistic training," said Dumas.