A pre-decisional final draft of the Cascadia Rising After Action Report (AAR) has been released by the State of Washington. This AAR reflects lessons learned from this massive exercise conducted in early June of this year based upon an earthquake and tsunami scenario and involving approximately 23,000 participants from the US Pacific Northwest as well as Canadian regional partners. Just within the state of Washington, this was an incredibly complex exercise that was actually itself comprised of four large exercise components, broadly testing emergency operations coordination and the integration of National Guard and other military forces in a defense support to civil authorities capacity.
Topics: Cascadia Rising
Let’s face it; there are a lot of communications solutions out there, but many of them cost money. I’ve written in the past about the comprehensive efforts that should be put forward for improving communications and integrating interoperability. These include efforts such as planning, organizing, training, and exercises. All of these things can cost money, although don’t necessarily need to cost much – especially if organizations invest in their personnel to build these capabilities in-house, or share resources with other organizations. Equipment, however, is rarely obtained on the cheap. Some organizations have an ability to easily allocate funds to these expenditures, which can escalate quickly, depending on the number of vehicles, locations, and people you need to equip and the geography you need to cover. Most organizations, however, aren’t so lucky.
Released in 2002, the 9/11 Commission Report as well as other after action reports on the responses to the 9/11 attacks, identified a number of communications failures and areas for improvement. Many of those were heeded, while some were lost within the myriad reorganizations and requirements that emerged in the years following 9/11. Communications issues persisted and showed themselves again on a national stage when Hurricane Katrina made landfall in 2005. The Post-Katrina Emergency Management Reform Act (PKEMRA) of 2006 codified into law initiatives to address many of the areas for improvement we saw from 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and other incidents. PKEMRA became one of the most significant pieces of emergency management legislation passed in the United States.
It’s no mystery that communication is a key element of incident management. While we often criticize various aspects of communications in after action reports of exercises, events, and incidents; we quickly lose sight of what must be addressed. Interestingly enough, we don’t put enough emphasis on the management of communications. In an incident, the management of communications is the responsibility of the Communications Unit Leader.
Topics: communications unit
Mobile command vehicles and trailers are nothing new. Like most things in emergency management, these resources have firm military roots. Mobile command vehicles and trailers were used extensively in World War II by practically every command element in the field. While there were variations, they typically consisted of a combined office and meeting room along with communications equipment; all in all, not much different from what we have today.