Hypothetical exercises allow public safety and law enforcement personnel to prepare for awful situations. Agencies across the nation now try to ensure that every man and woman is trained to respond to a mass casualty event in case one ever develops. In addition to bettering the quality of response of law enforcement and public safety personnel, these training exercises provide data about the department and an individual's qualifications if a set situation occurs. This allows officials to make the best decision possible about who is to be sent to complete what task – especially important if multiple departments are called to respond.
Cleveland Indians train for IED casualty event
Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, Ohio, have been working to conduct full-scale exercises with the city's Major League Baseball Team the Cleveland Indians. Emergency Management reported that representatives from the baseball team have approached the city and the county to develop a full-scale exercise to train a response measure if there was ever a terrorist attack at Progressive Field.
"The Department of Homeland Security recommends preparation as the No. 1 priority in dealing with emergency situations," said Bob DiBiasio, the Indians' senior vice president of public affairs, in a statement, according to the news source. "While our safety and security policies and procedures always have maintained the highest standards, we know it is very important to be well prepared in the event of any major emergency situation."
Because of the various agency structures in the area, it was important to plan and train how various components of area public safety and law enforcement agencies would determine who would be best for what portion of the job.
"We don't have any first responder responsibility ourselves because all of Cuyahoga County is incorporated, so in every square foot of it there's a police chief and a fire chief and they're responsible for the initial response in their community," Walter Topp, administrator of the Cuyahoga County Office of Emergency Management, told the news source. "Our function is to assist all the local agencies and to really be the gateway to significant assistance either at the state or federal level."
Georgia Emergency Management Agency holds mass casualty training event
In July, about 60 volunteers gathered at the University of North Georgia's gym in Gainesville to participate in a mass casualty scenario like an explosion during a college basketball game. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security is heading the event, partnered with the Georgia Association of Emergency Medical Services, Department of Public Health's Office of EMS and Trauma and Georgia Tech.
With all of these agencies involved, communication and data becomes even more crucial.
"The [responders] will be testing their communication skills; will be testing whether they can set up a command structure," said Lisa Janak Newman, public information officer for GEMA, according to the news source. "They'll need to go in and assess these victims to determine who should be triaged first and taken to the staging area where they'll be treated. The main purpose of the exercise is to test coordination skills and to make sure that the technology everybody has is working; everybody's communicating."
Having data about response capabilities readily available during a mass casualty event can make a significant difference in the quality of the response. Incident commanders will be better able to identify which responders to task with specific jobs based on their experience and training. This is especially helpful during multi-disciplinary and multi-jurisdictional responses where rapid, accurate assessing each team's skills and capabilities is crucial during the early stages of an emergency.
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