Inside look: Connecticut’s statewide emergency preparedness exercise
In preparation for the state of Connecticut’s approaching hurricane season, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection’s Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) facilitated a two-day, statewide emergency preparedness exercise in order to test the State’s planning, coordination, mass care, and communication readiness for potential disasters. The exercise was part of the ongoing Emergency Preparedness and Planning Initiative (EPPI) established by Governor Dannel Malloy in 2011.
Due to our close working relationship with the State of CT, Francis Willett and I were invited to attend and participate in the exercise as representatives of Everbridge. This helped ensure we were able to get a first-hand look at the action.
DEMHS used our Everbridge Mass Notification system throughout the duration of the exercise to communicate with 163 towns and Tribal Nations that comprise the state of Connecticut. The 2014 exercise focused on Mass Care, as well as the functional needs population. During the planning process, the exercise team developed numerous injects that would be delivered to the participating towns via Everbridge notifications. These injects were designed to facilitate discussion within the Unified Command on how they would handle various issues that could occur during a real emergency. As a result of this exercise – and by discussing the injects and solutions – some towns have now opted to update or change their response plans to include some of the solutions they just worked together to define.
Everbridge played a tremendous role in this year’s emergency preparedness exercise. DEMHS delivered all of the exercise injects to the participating towns using Mass Notification, as well as to send mock weather updates and bring all of the participants of the exercise together on a state-wide conference call with the Governor. When a town completed its inject, DEMHS was able to immediately send out more updates to keep them engaged in the exercise. With the delivery confirmation capability of Everbridge, they were completely satisfied that the towns were receiving the information successfully. This was very important–the overall success of the exercise was based on several objectives, but the effective delivery of all injects was one of the most significant. Using Everbridge they were able to successfully meet this priority objective.
The Governor also toured the state throughout the duration of the exercise and wrapped up the day with a visit to the mock command center where Francis and I were posted. Based on the comments I heard him make at the conclusion, he was very pleased with the results of the exercise, including the effectiveness of the Everbridge system. Moreover, the primary Everbridge user at DEMHS, who was also extremely happy, remarked that the system ran “flawlessly.” He also expressed how he is looking forward to rolling out “Mobile Member” to all of the regions soon.
Overall, the exercise was a valuable learning experience as I was able to observe how planning and preparation strengthens critical communication readiness between various levels of government and the private sector. There was a strong focus on communication via a unified command structure for Mass Care as well as the functional needs population during this exercise, something we all know is very important.
With eight of 13 named storms predicted to hit the State during this approaching hurricane season (with Arthur already in the books), I think it is safe to say that Connecticut is well prepared to handle any storm that comes their way!