Tabletop Exercises help with Disaster Preparedness

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September is National Preparedness Month. Each year National Preparedness Month is recognized to promote family and community disaster and emergency planning. Each year FEMA puts out a themed campaign during National Preparedness Month to bring attention to the need to prepare for potential disasters. This year’s emphasis on Rural Resurrection is on tabletop exercises.

As discussed in last week’s post, conducting exercises that take into account different disaster scenarios is important to your community’s preparedness. These tabletop exercises have proven to be effective in preparing for disasters.

Five years ago representatives in Waco, Texas held a tabletop exercise in McLain Stadium. Interestingly enough, the scenario that the organizers selected was a major winter storm for the subject disaster. The impacts within the exercised included iced down the major roads, knocked down power lines, and stifled communication throughout the community. A video summarizing the event is provided below.

What is really intriguing about this exercise is that this is essentially what happened last winter. Texas was hit with a winter storm that not only impacted the local power grid but the inter-connected grids throughout the Midwest. Hopefully, the exercise discussed in the video above helped Waco representatives take concise, effective, action to remedy the local situation properly and as effectively as possible.

UNL Assistance

Courtesy: JEO Consulting Group

As always, the website is a great resource. Check out their Exercises page for more on tabletop exercises. The website has a wealth of information that can be helpful to your community. As stated on the Exercises page:

Exercises are a great method to:

  • Evaluate the preparedness program
  • Identify planning and procedural deficiencies
  • Test or validate recently changed procedures or plans
  • Clarify roles and responsibilities
  • Obtain participant feedback and recommendations for program improvement
  • Measure improvement compared to performance objectives
  • Improve coordination between internal and external teams, organizations and entities
  • Validate training and education
  • Increase awareness and understanding of hazards and the potential impacts of hazards.
  • Assess the capabilities of existing resources and identify needed resources

Contact your local emergency management office about conducting a tabletop exercise. Though the scenarios are imaginary, the potential to save lives and property in the future is real.