Gulf County Emergency Management conducts hurricane tabletop exercise

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 09:14 AM.

“We have a lot of new people - all needing a chance to integrate with each other. We need to work and train with each other now so that when an emergency occurs and we walk into the EOC, there’s no doubt about what we need to do,” he said.

The exercise was designed for a variety of responders but is not restricted to government agencies.

“One of our main goals for this exercise is to involve as many community partners as possible,” says Marshall Nelson. “In the event that a hurricane hits, it would impact our whole community, from emergency agencies to private industry to local citizens and we all need to be ready to respond.”

To that end, the exercise featured quite an array of participants including personnel from Gulf County Emergency Management, Commissioner’s Office, Administration, Grants Department, EMS, Building Department, Public Works, Mosquito Control, Planning Department, Fire/Rescue, Sheriff’s Office, Gulf County Health Department, Florida Forest Service, Gulf County Amateur Radio Society, Gulf District School Board, Sacred Heart Hospital, Gulf County Chamber of Commerce, Gulf County Tourist Development, the American Red Cross as well as local media.

Terry Schenk, the Exercise Director for Disasters, Strategies, and Ideas Group (DSI), the organization designing and running the exercise, praised the county for creating such widespread participation.

“Once again, Gulf County is planning now instead of being blindsided by a future event,” said Schenk, who also worked with Gulf County on a full scale mass casualty exercise in 2011. “Just as the county proved then when everyone is working as a cohesive team, it lays the groundwork to being better prepared for future emergencies. The Gulf County Board of Commissioners commitment to teamwork translates into lives being saved.”

An evaluation team from DSI will assess the response with the goal of developing an “after action report and improvement plan” to be used by the participants in enhancing their response capabilities. Marshall Nelson explained that the purpose of bringing in an evaluation team is to find strengths and weaknesses and use these findings as a learning tool for improvement.

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