Emergency Crews Put To The Test
On April 1, simulated exercises held by first responder agencies in Carroll County, Md., helped identify deficiencies in inter-agency communications. The mock drills involved such things as putting out a fire, rescuing victims from a bus accident, and resolving a terrorism incident.
“A lot of information was not passed on,” according to Jeff Alexander, regional administrator for the Maryland Emergency Management Agency. “For instance, the firefighters on the airplane fire didn’t know until 80 minutes into the exercise about the terrorists and chemicals.”
The problem was due to agencies maintaining their own channels instead of using a single emergency radio channel in order; this was done to accommodate real emergencies, said Vivian D. Laxton, county public information administrator.
The exercises were stipulated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, which provided $50,000 towards the drill and made it compulsory to include a terrorism incident. A report on the exercises will mention problems with communications.
Maj. Thomas H. Long, chief of the Field Services Bureau for the county’s Sheriff’s Department, said the problem was due to person-to-person problems rather than a lack of technology. The county Emergency Operations Center is now awaiting reports from the different agencies that took part, which will help staff members make appropriate changes, said Bill Hall, emergency management planner with the county’s Office of Public Safety Support Services.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Baltimore Sun (04/09/06); Hare, Mary Gail; Baublitz, Ellie .