Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2015 Vol. 62 No. 8

Message From The Chief

Being prepared for emergencies is everyone’s task. In times of calm and peace, we may tend to relax a little too much, which could lead to a feeling of complacency. And in our line of work, complacency kills. Emergencies can happen anywhere and almost any time in Texas.

Often we discuss plans, training and exercises in terms of preparedness activities. Exercises are a practical, efficient and usually cost-effective way for public or private organizations to prepare for emergencies. Exercises test and validate plans, procedures, equipment, facilities, expectations and training. From there we can identify areas that are proficient and those areas that need improvement. The lessons we learn can be used to revise operational plans and provide a basis for training to improve proficiency in executing our plans.

A welcomed benefit of a well-designed exercise is that everything occurs in a controlled environment where deployment of personnel and resources can be structured to test, validate and improve very specific plans or capabilities. By documenting and analyzing the results of exercises we can readily measure performance and progress in building, sustaining, and delivering core capabilities in pursuit of a more secure and resilient state and nation.

Critical Mass 2015 Exercise Series
In June, Texas hosted the Critical Mass 2015 Exercise Series with a functional exploration of ESF-6: Mass Care, Emergency Assistance, Housing, and Human Services Emergency support function. Planning for the Critical Mass 2015 series began in September 2014 and consisted of three separate and distinct exercises (a seminar, a tabletop and a functional exercise) conducted over a six-month period. The exercises were carefully selected, designed and developed so that each activity built upon the previous exercise in complexity and tested and evaluated the following program priorities:

  • Sheltering providing life-sustaining services while establishing, staffing and equipping safe and secure facilities
  • Feeding developing short- and long-term programs that focus on efficient meal distribution, mass feeding centers and mobile sites as well as care for those with special diets
  • Reunification creating procedures for reuniting separated family members during a widespread disaster
DPS Regions 4 and 5

Lone Star Defender Series (LSDS)
In a few weeks, exercise planning will begin for Hurr-Blizzard 2016 as the Texas Division of Emergency Management’s Lone Star Defender Series rotates to the Texas Department of Public Safety Regions 4 and 5.

LSDS is TDEM’s state exercise program specifically designed to build, sustain and deliver core capabilities in a regional fashion. It will be the third year that LSDS has advanced a cohesive and efficient exercise strategy tailored to regional threats, hazards and risks. In this scenario the attention is focused on weather events significant to Regions 4 and 5. An extreme winter storm stalls over the western third of Texas, and heavy snow, extremely low temperatures, ice accumulations, flooding and blizzard conditions have crippled the region. Severe storms of this nature can last for days, weeks and even months, which can result in loss of life, property and create significant economic losses for a community.
Although specific objectives are still under development, the exercise will explore capabilities of the following priorities during the 2016 evaluation:

  • Infrastructure Systems specifically restoration and recovery of electric power infrastructure
  • Mass Care
  • Transportation including coordination and mutual aid with New Mexico and Oklahoma

This capstone functional exercise is tentatively scheduled for September 2016.

Overall, emergency drills and exercises are well worth the effort. Practice is an important aspect of the preparation process, and I urge you all to take the time to make the effort to seriously consider including drills and exercise components in your preparedness plan.

Chief W. Nim Kidd, CEM TEM
Follow @chiefkidd on Twitter

Virtual Table Top Exercise (VTTX) Series
About Emergency Management Exercises
Training and Exercise Planning Workshop
Exercise Reporting Information and Forms
Crosswalk of Target Capabilities to Core Capabilities (PDF)
Emergency Management Exercise FAQ (PDF)
Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) 2013 (Updated August 2013)

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