Mock disaster drills help emergency management agencies identify areas of weakness, improve training, highlight gaps in planning. Drills can also help agencies learn how to work together by building inter-agency relationships and developing guidelines for cohesiveness.
Vermont is hoping to soon improve its disaster planning and response capabilities. The Vermont Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS) has been preparing for a mock disaster drill, one of the largest disaster drills in the history of the state.
The drill is scheduled to take place between July 25 and August 2 and will involve members of the Vermont National Guard, be located in several areas across the state, and include thousands of local and state officials. According to the director of the Vermont DEMHS, Chris Herrick, the agency has no idea about any of the details of the drill, which has been in planning for several years.
Key functions of the drill
Key functions of the drill are to test the ability of the agencies to request federal assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as local and state resources would likely be exhausted and overwhelmed immediately.
Herrick believes that each scenario would be catastrophic enough to tax local and state resources, but is fairly certain several of these catastrophic events will occur simultaneously during the drill, completely overwhelming any available local, state, or regional planning and response capabilities.
“Each of which on their own would be significant, but they are all going to happen at the same time, so that we're going to be driven to the limits of our planning and our ability to respond.” -- Chris Herrick, Director, Vermont DEMHS.
The important function of mock disasters, and this one is no different, is to test and evaluate how response teams react to the catastrophic situations and what lessons are learned. It can also highlight planning gaps and help determine areas that need improvement for future responses.
The state has been awarded a little more than $7 million dollars in emergency response funds, and the mock disaster drill will help the agency identify where the money should be allocated.
— Vermont Public Radio (@vprnet) July 11, 2016