October 2004: Operation Maritime Strength
On October 8, 2004 — conducted aboard the Guy V. Molinari, the newest addition to the Staten Island Ferry fleet — Operation Maritime Strength was a tabletop exercise designed to examine the City's response plans for a waterway emergency.
Moderated by a U.S. Department of Homeland Security contractor, and hosted by the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and the NYC Department of Transportation, Maritime Strength allowed senior-level City officials to evaluate preventive response concepts, plans, and capabilities for an incident involving the Staten Island Ferry or other watercraft. The exercise also challenged participants — primarily commissioners and operational unit leaders — to use their collective expertise in fields including preparedness, law enforcement, consequence management, homeland security, and health and medical protocols to make difficult decisions.
The scenario: On a routine run during the weekday morning commute, an explosion occurs aboard the Staten Island Ferry midway between Staten Island and Manhattan. The ferry loses power and is adrift in the Upper New York Bay, and there are multiple casualties.
The exercise: In a tabletop exercise, participants or "players" work through a simulated emergency event to develop solutions to problems posed as part of that scenario. Discussion is facilitated by a moderator and enhanced by incorporation of "injects" to trigger consideration of additional topics. Players are to react according to their experience and knowledge of response procedures, existing plans, and insights derived from experience or training.
Drawing participants from more than 15 City agencies and organizations, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard and Federal Bureau of Investigation, Operation Maritime Strength focused primarily on City emergency responder coordination, critical decisions, and integration of federal and regional assets necessary to save lives and protect the public.
Once presented the scenario, Maritime Strength players, working with operational personnel and subject matter experts, engaged in discussion to determine how best to coordinate response efforts. Key issues considered included emergency responder access to the site, extinguishing the fire aboard the ferry, patient care and transport, joint public information, transportation system management, and citywide security.
A list of participants:
- New York City Fire Department(FDNY)
- FDNY — Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
- Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA)
- New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)
- New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH)
- New York City Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications (DoITT)
- New York City Department of Transportation (DOT)
- New York City Health and Hospital Corporation (HHC)
- New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA)
- New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME)
- NYC Office of Emergency Management
- New York City Office of the Mayor
- New York City Police Department (NYPD)
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
- U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)
- Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA)
- Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ)
- Safe Horizon
- American Red Cross
May 2004: Operation Transit SAFE
In the early morning hours of May 16, 2004, OEM hosted Operation Transit SAFE, the City's first interagency subway exercise, at lower Manhattan's Bowling Green subway station. Inspired by the Madrid bombings of March 2004, the four-hour drill was designed to test the City's response to a terrorist attack in the subway.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office for Domestic Preparedness (ODP), Transit SAFE involved more than 500 emergency responders and 400 NYPD recruits and FDNY probationary firefighters posing as "victims" and "evacuees."
The scenario: Transit SAFE began as two simulated explosions occurred on separate subway trains in the Bowling Green station. Fire, police, and other rescue and law enforcement teams were immediately deployed to the scene to initiate rescue and response operations.
First responders discovered a third, unexploded device on one train, and the NYPD Bomb Squad worked quickly to remove it. Meanwhile, rescuers were challenged to assist victims and maintain rescue and site security operations amid the throng of evacuees exiting the station.
The exercise: Drawing participants from more than 60 agencies and organizations, Transit SAFE was designed specifically to test rescue, casualty management, crime scene investigation, environmental, law enforcement, logistics, mutual aid, and telecommunications aspects of the City's response to an incident in the subway system.
Participants were evaluated on objectives including:
The Mayor concluded the exercise with a press conference with City and State representatives.
- Interaction between facility operations personnel and local responders, including interaction during the transition period between internal facility response and external emergency response.
- Procedures to request, receive, and integrate response assets from numerous agencies.
- Interagency coordination of personnel.
- Ability to rescue, treat, and track casualties in a mass casualty incident (MCI).
- Ability to protect the public from the effects of a WMD attack.
- Procedures to ensure perimeter security/crime scene preservation.
The aftermath: Following the exercise, participants gathered for "debriefing" sessions, in which participants reviewed the sequence of events and exercise objectives. Smaller groups compiled after-action reports, which City agencies and participating organziations will draw on to amend and improve existing plans.
View the press release
March 2004: Operation United Response
As part of the City's continuing efforts to test and refine its emergency preparedness plans and response protocols, OEM hosted Operation United Response, a major multi-agency field exercise, at Shea Stadium on March 14, 2004. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office for Domestic Preparedness (ODP), United Response focused on the City's initial response actions to a weapons of mass destruction attack, and marked New York City's largest field drill, with more than 1,000 emergency responders and hospital staff, and 1,000 volunteers acting as victims.
As the scenario unfolded, drill "players," working from various locations around the City, initiated response operations, and evaluators reviewed player actions to measure how well they met objectives set forth by exercise planners. "Controllers," who planned and managed exercise play, acted in the roles of response officials, provided key data to players, and worked to ensure exercise continuity.
The scenario: An explosion occurs at Shea Stadium, resulting in more than 200 casualties. Fans rush to exit the stadium, and rescuers must contend with scores of evacuees in their attempts to reach the victims. Meanwhile, law enforcement teams find two additional devices in the parking lot that register abnormal radiation levels.
The exercise: Drawing participants from more than 100 agencies and organizations, United Response was designed specifically to test rescue, casualty management, law enforcement, hospital, telecommunications, environmental, and public information response to an incident in a large, public venue.
United Response's objectives were to assess the following:
Following the mock explosion, Fire Department (FDNY), Police Department (NYPD), and other first responders were deployed to the scene to initiate response operations. Agencies leading rescue, casualty management, and law enforcement operations were challenged to set up triage; free victims from the debris; coordinate the mass evacuation; and secure traffic, mass transportation and pedestrian control, among other objectives.
- Interaction between facility operations personnel and local responders, including transition from internal facility response to external emergency response
- Procedures to request, receive, and integrate response assets from numerous agencies
- Interagency coordination among personnel
- Responders' ability to rescue, treat, and track casualties in a mass casualty incident
- Responders' ability to protect the public from the effects of a WMD attack
- Public information personnel's ability to coordinate information for release to the public
- Procedures to ensure perimeter security/crime scene preservation
Meanwhile, environmental responders from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) sampled air to determine if any chemical or radiological agent was released, and FDNY HazMat monitored area conditions in the parking lot. More than 50 area hospitals, many of which received "patients" transported from Shea Stadium, worked to treat and track casualties, and follow protocols for a WMD incident.
Communications teams from the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunication, (DoITT), were on scene to support Nextel and 800MHz radio service, while OEM's Watch Command tracked and monitored radio communications and made appropriate notifications.
On scene and in the OEM press office, public information officers collected information about the incident, assessed public information needs, and worked to develop a message to disseminate to the public via the press, 311 and NYC.gov.
The aftermath: Following the exercise, participants gathered for "debriefing" sessions, in which players, evaluators and controllers reviewed the scenario sequence of events and drill objectives. Smaller functional groups compiled after-action reports, which City agencies and participating organziations will draw on to amend and improve existing plans.
View the press release