Day Four - Colorado Integrated Emergency Management Course

"Short-Term Recovery." It sounds so simple.  It reads so easy on the top, title line of the exercise book page.  But, these four words don't even begin to represent the scope of effort involved.  The storm clouds have cleared.  The multiple mega-level tornadoes have gone back up.  The sun is back out.  Under that sun, there are now tens of thousands homeless across the Front Range.  The fatalities/injured numbers are still being assessed.  On top of the human and animal impact, there are miles upon miles upon miles of debris - hazardous and material.  Power, communications, transportation routes, hospitals, schools, and on and on and on, all gone, damaged or otherwise unrecognizable and certainly unusable.

What... happens... now?  Short-Term Recovery.  In Colorado, recovery for an event of this magnitude requires the intimate cooperation and organization of emergency response, public, volunteer/nonprofit and private sector partners.  This was the purpose of today's State-level Integrated Emergency Management Course table-top exercise.  We assembled, in the State Emergency Operations Center (EOC), local, state, federal representatives from each of these groups for a discussion of how we collectively approach and tackle the recovery task.  If you are interested in the details of the current State Emergency Operations Plan, you can read the existing version online.  We are involved, currently, in a major update to this operations plan and this exercise, both the response and recovery modules, are a critical part of evaluating the plan and additional items that plan should address.

In particular, we addressed the challenges of transportation, communication, life-safety messages, public utilities, sheltering and housing, and basic needs assistance.  Organized into our State Recovery Task Force and the respective Emergency Support Functions of the State's Emergency Operations Center, we engaged in a structured and detailed evaluation of the short and longer-term challenges and missions for each of the challenges.

Now that the course has concluded, we will now turn to getting our minds and fingers to the task of going through the minutes, identifying lessons and issues requiring further action and getting a plan together that outlines what, who and how issues will be resolved that we identified during the exercise.  We will be posting much more information on this effort in the future as the reports are generated.  Of course, the ultimate product of this effort will be captured in our update to the State Emergency Operations Plan.  In particular, at the conclusion of today's activities, the Emergency Management Institute team provided participants with the a suite of electronic materials.  In the coming weeks, I will be going through these materials and documents and making select documents available.

Specifically, our goal here at the Division is to expand upon this experience at the State-level and develop a training and exercise program that could be implemented in Colorado at the local and municipal level, organized and hosted by the State's Division of Emergency Management.  The concept, still in its infancy, is that we would bring state-level EOC teams comprised of various State-level Emergency Support Function representatives to host a two-day course for local emergency operations centers.  Conceptually, the first day would be a review and training class with the second day a functional exercise.  There will be more on this to come, too!