Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano and United States Congresswoman Kathleen Rice today announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Health Affairs (OHA) Chemical Defense Program (CDP) and the Nassau County Fire Marshal (NCFM), in cooperation with the fire service and other County agencies, will be conducting a one-day modified exercise scenario designed to improve Countywide response capabilities to a large-scale chemical incident. The exercise will take place in October 2015 and will include elements of operational expertise as well as real-time information sharing and decision making.
“This multi-agency exercise allows Nassau County first responders to test their capabilities in real-time while refining and improving strategies for responding to chemical incidences,” said County Executive Mangano. “This exercise is an important step in our ongoing preparedness efforts and will assist in strengthening communication among Federal, County and local first responders.”
The demonstration project entails a large-scale chemical incident at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Exercise participants will discuss their respective operations following the release of a chemical agent at the Coliseum resulting in mass casualties.
“The threats against our country are constantly evolving, and we have a responsibility to anticipate and prepare for the worst-case scenario,” said Representative Kathleen Rice. “This exercise will ensure that our local first responders have the training, skills and communications capabilities they’ll need to respond to a large-scale chemical attack. This is a critical investment in our local security, and I look forward to continue working with our federal and local partners to ensure that we’re fully prepared to protect the people we serve.”
The concept of the exercise is to enhance community-oriented response for large-scale chemical incidents, validate the critical tasks and key decisions required during the immediate response to a chemical incident and to test the draft chemical incident CONOPS, to include agency authorities, roles and responsibilities; agency coordination; and information sharing. The chemical defense demonstration project will focus on operational coordination, situational assessment, public health and medical services and public information and warning.
The Operational Coordination portion of the project will examine multi-agency coordination and information flow between unified command and agency leadership, between responders and medical centers, and between medical centers. It will also examine the roles, responsibilities, and coordination between unified command, the County’s Emergency Operational Center (EOC), hospitals, private sector, and other stakeholders.
The Situational Assessment will involve examining how agencies make decisions with uncertain and/or conflicting information and the processes they use to overcome this. During the exercise scenario there will also be a focus on Public Health and Medical services to identify the requirements and existing capacity and capability to provide lifesaving medical treatment at the incident site and at area hospitals.
The demonstration will focus on process of communicating, developing and distributing Public Information and Warnings. It will test the ability of stakeholders to quickly develop and disseminate protective action decisions and other information and warnings to the public.