After nearly a year of planning and preparations, CONSTANT recently had the pleasure of facilitating San Diego County’s 2019 Regional Full-Scale Exercise. This exercise is the culmination of a bi-annual series of exercises San Diego County uses to enhance the region’s capacity for integrated response to, and recovery from, complex emergencies and disaster events.
The exercise started bright and early with a simulated cascade of vehicle-borne and active shooter attacks on major event sites throughout the County. These simulated attacks, involving live actors, pressed first responders to deal with challenges including mass casualties, improvised explosive devices, hostile drones, and suspected WMD dispersal devices. Simultaneously, regional medical facilities practiced tracking and treating a resultant patient surge while another cluster of agencies practiced establishing and managing a Family Assistance Center. Real-time coordination of these efforts, and strategic decision making, was conducted by city, county, and special jurisdiction emergency operation centers (EOCs) – ultimately engaging local, state, and federal officials.
Ultimately, the exercise engaged nearly 1000 players from 58 local, state, federal, private, and non-governmental organizations in field response, family assistance center, and EOC exercise play. It also engaged the county Medical Operations Center and 24 hospitals/major medical facilities in testing medical surge capabilities. This made it the largest full-scale exercise in San Diego history. Additionally, the engagement of these participants in concurrent exercise play allowed San Diego County to conduct its first full-scale test of the systems and processes used to integrate first responders, emergency management structures, and key officials during major emergencies.
Though the exercise is over, the learning has only just begun. CONSTANT staff are analyzing performance data and expert observations gathered during the exercise to identify lessons learned and areas for improvement. These will be consolidated in an After-Action Report and Improvement Plan, with the help of participating agencies, to inform future development efforts.
Here are a few news clips and links to local media coverage of this event: