We have been working on planning the Texas Exercise since last August. Because of my record of putting on 3 successive exercises with no budget or staff, I was asked to help out with the planning for this year's exercise. I agreed because I'm all about training up the rest of the country in state mass care coordination so that they will be ready to come to Tallahassee and help me when the Cat 5 hits Miami.
|The site selected at Camp Mabry National Guard base for the Shelter & Feeding Task Forces.|
|Texas Division of Emergency Management &Texas National Guard show |
State, VOAD and FEMA visitors the Camp Mabry site.
Two major issues that were not resolved in the previous exercises, and will be a particular focus of the 2015 exercise, are coordination between the task forces and the linkage between the task forces and the state operations center. Camp Mabry, the location of the mass care task forces, is at some distance from the SOC and this will provide some challenges in maintaining a common situation awareness at both locations.
A state establishes mass care task forces when the size of the disaster overwhelms their ability to coordinate an effective response. In 2004 we tried to meet the demand for additional mass care coordination by drafting state workers for the job. This solution was less than satisfactory. In big disasters we need augmentation by skilled emergency managers and mass care subject matter experts. The only way to get these people is to bring them in from out of state. How do we organize and employ these additional personnel? We establish mass care task forces.
These task forces will be much more effective if the incoming people are trained and exercised on a common mass care task force structure and function. That's the process that we started in Florida, will continue in Texas this year and carry forward in Missouri next year.
Plus, the exercise will be a lot of fun. All the cool people will be there. I'm looking forward to it.