Day Two - Colorado Integrated Emergency Management Course

If we only had four words to summarize today's course subject areas, they would be (in order):  planning, planning, resources, planning.  We did have a healthy situational awareness module, but most of the effort of the presentations and the two tabletop exercise modules rotated around planning and resource identification/allocation.

Successful Planning
Drawing from both the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8 and the Comprehensive Preparedness Guidelines - 101, the facilitators led discussions on planning considerations and process.  Rotating around the model of successful planning, which includes acceptability, adequacy, completeness, consistency, feasibility, flexibility and inter-operable collaboration, participants discussed the top-level of planning methodologies.  While we did not get into the specifics of the Colorado Emergency Operations Plan, the basic scenarios were used as catalysts for participant discussions on particular roles, responsibilities and capabilities of involved agencies.  One of the more interesting discussion threads was the need to move the trigger point of private sector involvement further up in the planning process than where it sometimes normally resides in emergency management, at the point of "I need".  While there is some work in this area going on in Colorado, such as the collaboration accomplished through the Colorado Emergency Preparedness Partnership and the resource initiatives being led by the Division of Fire Safety, this was generally agreed as an area in which to expand efforts.

Situational Awareness/Common Operating Picture
In wonderful simplicity, situational awareness was described as "my perception," while common operating picture was identified as "our collective perception."  Regardless of an incident's cause or scale, situational awareness is always a complex issue.  Establishing sources and flow of information and understanding which actions are taking place where is a responsibility of all involved in the response effort.  The critical key, of course, is to ensure the information flow process on how information is taken in and to whom it is provided in a standardized fashion is understood and implemented in a standardized, regularized manner (It is something we have been working within our EOC and we are looking forward to testing our new procedures during the exercise tomorrow!)  Gaining information is only half of the challenge, however.  The second challenge is in rendering that information into an easily understandable and accessible format that provides all agencies - which can include hundreds in a major response - can access and put to use.  If you are involved in emergency management and interested in some useful tools available to help spur consideration and improve these two aspects of response, check out the Lessons Learned Information Sharing tool, run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Table Top Exercise
Several hours of the day were dedicated to a group tabletop exercise where small groups tackled a series of questions (largely planning-based) rotating around an improvised explosive device scenario.

The most Colorado-specific portion of today's activities was the presentation and discussion over the Division of Fire Safety's efforts to improve our resource mobilization tools in the State (pic right).  This system, still in development, will help dramatically increase our state capabilities to identify, request, mobilize, track, monitor an demobilize people and material being applied to an incident.  From the presentation, it is clear it will include nonprofit and private sector resources, mapping capabilities and more.

Tomorrow is the main exercise day (tornado response scenario), followed by another exercise on Friday that will focus on recovery efforts.  Should be fun!!!