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Training, Drills, & Exercises: 2008

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June 2008: HurrEx 2008
OEM conducted the HurrEx 2008 full-scale exercise at IS 187, the Christa McAuliffe School, in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, to test the shelter training component of the City's Coastal Storm Plan (CSP). More than 115 players from 16 agencies underwent shelter management training and set up a shelter to receive 500 evacuees.

The scenario: A Category 2 hurricane is threatening to hit New York City. The New York State Department of Health has already begun to evacuate healthcare facilities in flood-prone areas. New York City has taken measures to evacuate the homebound population and those with special medical needs. The Mayor has issued an evacuation order for the City, which means that evacuation centers and shelters for Zone A and Zone B evacuation areas need to be staffed and opened. Workers have been notified to report to evacuation centers for further instructions and vendors have begun shipping supplies. It is time to prepare the evacuation centers and shelters to receive evacuees.

The exercise: In preparation for the arrival of hundreds of evacuees, OEM activated SAHANA, an emergency notification tool used to alert and track shelter personnel during an approaching storm. Shelter managers identified opportunities for specialization among the 115 players and divided them into groups for "'just-in-time' training" video and instructor-led presentations on shelter management. Players who had experience working with seniors funneled into senior trainings, while players who had experience working with pets received training on pet sheltering.

Meanwhile, more than 50 volunteers from NYC's Community Emergency Response Teams and the American Red Cross in Greater New York unloaded two large trucks stocked with emergency supplies including water, cots, blankets, medical supplies, and pet care items. The volunteers worked quickly and the shelter became operational ahead of schedule.

The HurrEx 2008 full-scale exercise preceded a larger regional exercise called Empire Express, sponsored by the New York State Office of Emergency Management. Empire Express included role-play by the Emergency Operations Centers (EOC) in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester counties. New York City drilled its own EOC teams on the updated Coastal Storm Plan the following week.

The drill received international attention. Two members of Toronto's Office of Emergency Management travelled to New York City to observe the drill and glean information about sheltering and mass care in urban environments.

A list of participants:
  • American Red Cross in Greater NY
  • NYC Administration for Children's Services
  • NYC Community Emergency Response Teams
  • NYC Department for the Aging
  • NYC Department for Citywide Administrative Services
  • NYC Department of Education
  • NYC Department of Environmental Protection
  • NYC Department of Finance
  • NYC Department of Homeless Services
  • NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications
  • NYC Department of Parks and Recreation
  • NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development
  • NYC Fire Department
  • NYC Housing Authority
  • NYC Human Resources Administration
  • NYC Law Department
  • NYC Mayor's Office
  • NYC Office of Emergency Management
  • NYC Police Department
View the press release

April 2008: CAT/PORT Drill
On April 14, 2008, more than 50 people from OEM and Con Edison gathered in the City's Emergency Operations Center at OEM headquarters to take part in a power outage response workshop. The participants were mostly Con Edison employees assigned to one of three teams: Customer Assessment Teams (CAT); Power Outage Response Team (PORT) liaisons; and Customer Count Teams (CCTs).

The scenario: In the early afternoon of a 95-degree day in Forest Hills, Queens, Con Edison receives numerous calls from private apartments and a public school about power failures in the area. The Fire Department also registers smoking manholes in the same area.

The exercise: Drill participants activated the PORT and CAT protocols. The CATs surveyed the area and confirmed the boundaries of the outage by talking to customers on the ground. The CCTs analyzed information from the field along with census data to gather information about seniors, home-bound residents, and individuals on life-sustaining equipment. The PORT liaisons worked with OEM responders to share information and instructions.

OEM's exercise controllers added complications to the scenario throughout the drill, forcing participants to react as they would have to during a real incident. An emergency building evacuation due to rising carbon monoxide levels and a thunderstorm, forced players to organize protection for the evacuated buildings and a shelter for displaced residents, in addition to restoring power to the area.

The new Con Edison positions tested in the workshop were created after the extended power outage in Long Island City in August 2006 as part of an effort between the City and Con Edison to better manage power failures. During widespread outages, CATs, CCTs, and PORT liaisons forgo their normal engineering and support staff roles at Con Edison and focus exclusively on their roles in the response. Even members who have not received a specific assignment remain on 24-hour standby.

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