04 April 2005

US National Preparedness: TOPOFF 3

Now that DHS has reemphasized the need for the National Preparedness Goal in the U.S., it must be time for the TOPOFF-3 exercise.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced April 1 2005 the publication of the Interim National Preparedness Goal (“Goal”). The Goal will guide federal departments and agencies, state, territorial, local and tribal officials, the private sector, non-government organizations and the public in determining how to most effectively and efficiently strengthen preparedness for terrorist attacks, major disasters, and other emergencies.

“In our complex free society, there is no perfect solution to address every security concern,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. “But by working together collectively to analyze threats, understand our capabilities, and apply resources intelligently, we can manage risk. The National Preparedness Goal will help us meet this objective.”

The Top Officials exercise (TOPOFF) will be comprised of local, state and national personnel estimated at around 10,000 people. The price around $16M. will produce real-time scenarios in New Jersey and Connecticut. One will be a biohazard and the other a chemical related incident.

The drills will be monitored by top U.S. Homeland Security officials from a command center in Washington, as well as regional centers in New Jersey and Connecticut.

Although no real weapons or bio-agents will be used, officials will respond as if it's the real thing: flooding the area with investigators and first responders in haz-mat suits, dispatching fleets of ambulances to hospitals across the state, and dealing with throngs of "victims" piling up outside emergency rooms.

The lessons learned will be many. The large businesses in the areas of the drill will soon realize that "Shelter-in-Place" may be a reality soon and should take this time to practice themselves. Remember, it may be hours or days before you can leave your office safely. Now is the time to replenish your supplies, food, water and emergency first aid kits.

Do you think you're spending too much time with your team planning? You haven't. Success in your organization doesn't happen because everything goes according to the plan. It happens because you were prepared when things go wrong. The organizations whose team has planned for every possible scenario and trained together in live simulations will become the most successful. Their missions will be accomplished on time and within budget.

Incidents of different severity and frequency are happening around you and your organization every day. Would your employees know what an incident looks like let alone know what to do next to mitigate the risk to them and the organization?

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