Message From The Chief
Being prepared to respond and recover from emergencies is everyone‘s challenge. In times of calm and peace, we may tend to relax a little too much--possibly leading to a feeling of complacency. In our line of work, complacency kills. Emergencies within the state can happen at any time and without warning. In the last week in Texas, we have had floods, drought, drinking water shortages, fires, and public health threats and unconfirmed terrorist threats. I can’t overemphasize the importance to remain vigilant and ensure our people, equipment, facilities and systems are always ready. This is a delicate balance.
Often we discuss plans, training and exercises in terms of preparedness activities. Exercises are a practical, efficient, and usually cost-effective way for public or private organizations to prepare for emergencies. Exercises test and validate plans, procedures, equipment, facilities, and training. From there we can identify areas that are proficient and those areas that need improvement. The lessons we learn can be used to revise operational plans and provide a basis for training to improve proficiency in executing our plans.
In the fire service, I believe the true professionals are the ones constantly conducting company level drills. The professionals know the value of drills, regardless of paid versus volunteer, or how many runs a day the company makes. These drills are simple, task-oriented activities that we all should know how to do but sometimes take for granted: simple things like selecting and raising ground ladders, catching a plug, or forcing entry. All first responders, first receivers, and emergency management professionals have “company level drills” they can do to improve proficiency and keep our edge.
This month the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced the launch of a multi-agency homeland security exercise in the Austin area to test and enhance coordinated response plans to scenarios involving terroristic threats or other critical incidents. This homeland security exercise is an important proactive measure to ensure the various law enforcement agency participants are optimally prepared to protect the citizens of Texas from any type of homeland security threat or incident. Over the next several weeks, the Texas Division of Emergency Management will continue to conduct statewide “drills” to ensure we maximize readiness and identify any gaps in our capabilities.
I want to thank all of you that quickly logged in and reported your bed counts to us on August 8. This is what I consider a task oriented drill--one that we neither announced nor did we give anyone advanced notice. We learned lessons, we made corrections on the move, and we improved the system. Your efforts and attention are very much appreciated. And don’t be surprised if there are more drills in the near future.
Overall, emergency drills and exercises are well worth the effort. Practice is an important aspect of the preparation process, and I urge you all to take the time to make the effort to seriously consider including drills and exercise components in your preparedness plan.
Chief W. Nim Kidd, CEM®
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Virtual Table Top Exercise (VTTX) Series
About Emergency Management Exercises
Training and Exercise Planning Workshop
Exercise Reporting Information and Forms
Crosswalk of Target Capabilities to Core Capabilities
Emergency Management Exercise FAQ
Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) 2013 (Updated August 2013)