Eyman-Florence Homeland Security Response Exercise
June 8, 2012
Eyman and Florence Complexes conducted a Homeland Security Response Exercise on 4 April 2012. The event originated out of an actual utility failure at ASPC-Eyman last year which generated an Arizona Department of Environmental Quality requirement to update and test a response plan. Deputy Warden for Operations Juli Jackson requested planning support to conduct an exercise and the rest became history.
The exercise planners exclusively complied with Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) standards. They utilized templates for documentation, development and dissemination. The Player Staffs received ICS refresher training and participated in a pre-exercise Table Top to reinforce their roles and responsibilities and teamwork. The partnership between the two complexes and extension to Pinal County Emergency Management and private vendors enhanced the activity and realism. The exercise was evaluated by personnel formally trained in HSEEP.
The scenario included elements of an all-hazards response to the Wastewater treatment facility. National weather conditions contributed to the challenges degrading communications, effecting facility damage, precipitating staff call-offs and blocking normal ingress and egress roads between the facilities. One unit’s exposure to environmental dangers precipitated the Incident Commander’s decision to direct evacuation planning. The Florence staff, through use of the ICS Planning Process, conducted analysis and published a plan for Reception and Staging of the evacuated inmates.
Each of the staff players remained actively engaged through the introduction of "injects" giving them the opportunity to work as an integral Incident Command team. SIMCELLs representing the Central Office and Pinal County reinforced liaison and coordination functions.
Exercise players at each level used new WEBEOC technology to communicate resource requirements and provide real-time visibility of significant events. WEBEOC is the national Incident Management automation tool; ADC is adopting its use on a progressive schedule.
ADW (Former Major) Thomas Higginson served as the Senior Controller for the Eyman component of the exercise. He provided the following response when asked what he has learned in the process of planning: "Planning a large scale ICS Drill, in compliance with NIMS (National Incident Management Standards) standards is a lot different than what we are used to as an agency and what we have practiced. There is a lot of thought, organization, formality and documentation that goes into the NIMS model. The planning process is spread out over period of months to achieve all of these. In reality, it takes that long to plan the Drill in conjunction with managing day to day operations of your area. The exercise was a good experience for those that participated."
As the Senior Controller for the Florence component, MAJ Wendy Hackney agreed that “learning to use HSEEP tools has provided me a better awareness of the system and can truly be beneficial in future ICS training and application to large scale incidents.” She elaborated on the difference between lower level ICS and the NIMS-compliance standards: "We use lower level ICS every day in our reaction or preparation for incidents in our units and complex. In lower level ICS we may expand out into OPLA, but we have never expanded each section into subsections with specific titles. This is our first exposure to the expanded Incident Organization Chart and the purpose of each sub section. Having this exposure will help us understand how to support each Section Chief in OPLA and to determine what documentation is expected of each section."
The exercise ended with a player “HOTWASH” at each location. This was an opportunity for players to voice their reaction and capture lessons learned from their perspective. Controllers and Evaluators met a few days later to exchange notes and conduct a Debriefing. They will soon attend an After Action Conference during which time the complexes will formulate their After Action Reports and establish Improvement Plans as a baseline for their exercise/training program moving forward.
The Way Ahead
As a whole, the agency is building out our Multi-Year Exercise Program and will be participating in several statewide exercises over the course of the summer and fall. Upcoming is a partnership with the Department of Health Services and County Public Health Departments regarding Strategic National Stockpile (prophylactic medications) distribution and a Continuity of Operations/Continuity of Government exercise. The Headquarters staff will practice evacuating and movement to an approved site during a September 2012 Functional Exercise. ASPC-Yuma is programmed for an Earthquake Response Exercise with federal partners in November 2012 and ASPC-Safford will be exercising a Fort Grant simulated wildfire evacuation in April of 2013. In the interim, we continue to mature as an agency, integrating NIMS ICS standards into our policies, procedures and real world incident responses.