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Archive of Training, Drills, & Exercises: 2003

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December 2003: Operation Recovery
From December 17-18, 2003, OEM — in partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office for Domestic Preparedness (ODP) — hosted Operation Recovery, a tabletop exercise designed to examine human services recovery issues.

Marking New York City's largest human services tabletop exercise, Operation Recovery challenged participants to evaluate current concepts, plans, and capabilities for recovery from a terrorist attack using weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

In a tabletop exercise, participants work through a simulated emergency event to develop solutions to problems posed as part of that scenario. The exercise was held at the NYC College of Technology in Brooklyn.

The scenario: The City has experienced three near-simultaneous explosions in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens, including the release of a potentially hazardous material. Thousands have voluntarily and forceably evacuated their homes, and many seek public shelter.

The exercise: Drawing participants from more than 80 agencies and organizations, Operation Recovery focused primarily on human services aspects of an emergency, from providing adequate shelter for evacuees to effectively managing volunteers.

Once presented the scenario, participants worked in pre-designated functional groups to test existing plans and coordinate recovery efforts with other groups. On the first day of the exercise, participants dealt with recovery issues arising 24-48 hours post-incident, while the second day focused on refining recovery plans for 30-60 days following the incident.

Functional groups included:
  • Animal Issues
  • Casework and Service Centers
  • Communications
  • Faith-based Initiatives
  • Food Services
  • Immigrant Affairs and Language Issues
  • Mental Health
  • Missing Persons
  • Shelter/Housing
  • Special Needs/Senior Citizens
  • Unsolicited Donations
  • Volunteers
Key Issues Addressed:
  • Animal Issues: Locating temporary shelter for animals belonging to people displaced by the disaster, reunifying pets with their owners, and dealing with abandoned animals or animals whose owners have died in the incident
  • Casework and Service Centers: Making decisions regarding when and where to open Family Assistance and Disaster Assistance Service Centers, and how long they will remain open
  • Communications: Establishing a 24-hour joint information and media center, and crafting major messages to be communicated to the public.
  • Faith-based Initiatives: Identifying roles for individual houses of worship and religious communities during response and recovery, and determining how faith-based social service agencies can best collaborate with the broader network of service providers
  • Food Services: Coordinating the multi-agency efforts required for the preparation and distribution of food to sheltered victims Citywide, in accordance with all applicable health and hygiene codes Immigrant Affairs and Language Issues: Identifying the unique needs of the City's immigrant and non-English speaking populations, developing an integrated outreach strategy to publicize available services, and staffing assistance centers with sufficient language capabilities
  • Mental Health: Determining the need for mental health services in the wake of a terrorist incident and the weeks and months following, including counseling and hotlines for victims and families, first responders and other members of the community
  • Missing Persons: Coordinating staffing and tools necessary to permit members of the public to report and receive information on missing persons, and developing protocols for the release of information on any identified victims
  • Shelter/Housing: Dealing with issues involving the immediate sheltering of displaced families and the long-term housing implications they may face
  • Special Needs/Senior Citizens: Examining issues faced by the elderly and individuals with special needs; and identified agency roles and capabilities
  • Unsolicited Donations: Developing a system for unsolicited donations, including drop-off locations, storage, and distribution of goods.
  • Volunteers: Examining the logistics involved with volunteer management including placement, communication, and transportation

October 2003: Operation Spring Tree
On October 22, 2003, OEM hosted Operation Spring Tree — an interactive exercise designed to examine response to a chemical terrorism incident — at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Drawing participants from the Department of Buildings (DOB) and the Department of Information Technology and Telecommuncations (DoITT), with support from OEM, the Department of Design and Construction, Housing Preservation and Development, Brookly Navy Yard Development Corporation and the American Red Cross, Spring Tree got underway as three mock explosives were detonated in various New York City boroughs. Among these explosives was a Radioactive Dispersal Device, which DOB had to take into special consideration when assessing building damage.

Following the initial "damage report," a DOB inspector was requested to the scene. Once on site, he proceeded to take incident reports to determine an appropriate course of action. The inspector then requested additional personnel to conduct rapid inspections and determine if the affected structure was safe to occupy.

Meanwhile, DoITT was charged with setting up a back-up 800 MHz radio system to ensure DOB personnel were able to effectively communicate with other City agencies.

Spring Tree, which marked the City's first recovery exercise and the first such exercise funded by the Department of Homeland Security, aimed to test responding agencies' ability to assess building damage caused by a significant explosion, setup time for the 800 MHz back-up radio system, and interagency coordination at the incident scene.

Following the drill, OEM reviewed the agencies' respective response times and decision-making strategies and will make improvements to the City's emergency response procedures where needed.

May 2003: Operation Winter Sun
In May 2003, Operation Winter Sun, a major multi-agency field exercise, was conducted to test New York City's response to a weapons of mass destruction attack.

Staged on a pier at 39th Street and 1st Ave. in Brooklyn, the five-hour, real-time drill was designed and coordinated by OEM in conjunction with Federal, State, local, and private partners. Drill participants included seven hospitals, 700 responders, 17 agencies, 265 "victims," and 125 vehicular units.

During this field exercise, "patients" simulated the ill effects of a chemical, biological, or radiological attack and were treated and decontaminated, as they would be in the aftermath of an actual attack. In addition to the activity that was on going at the site, eight public and private hospitals also participated simultaneous to the event.

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