Chris Mc Loone
The importance of at least annual drills covering various types of mass casualty incidents (MCIs) caused by the weather or because of something manmade like a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) has been clear for many years, even before the events of 9/11. These drills allow all agencies involved to work together, determine what outside resources are at their disposal, coordinate with the outside resources, and measure their own proficiency mitigating large-scale incidents.
For three years, the Lake-Cook (IL) Regional Critical Incident Partnership, a consortium of local Illinois businesses and emergency response agencies, has partnered with the United States Army Reserve and Grainger to host a disaster preparedness summit. “The event brings together federal, local emergency management, and business leaders to test the coordination of public and private sector partners with a simulated emergency scenario,” says Lee Cox, vice president, Grainger government and healthcare brand segments. “Nationally, Red Dragon trains, tests, and evaluates Army Reserve chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN) units and represents a major opportunity for soldiers to perform their mission in a realistic environment, working alongside their civilian counterparts.”
|(1) The Grainger Emergency Preparedness trailer is a 75-foot self-supporting vehicle that provides support for active disaster drills and includes Internet connectivity and a meeting and inventory room stocked with the most needed products used by first responders during an actual event. (Photos by author.)|
Accustomed to Being the Helper
During natural disasters, Grainger is used to being the company helping out. Grainger has an expansive logistics network, allowing it to rapidly deploy teams to disaster sites where it can provide and track various supplies. But what happens when Grainger’s headquarters is impacted by a disaster? This was the scenario that played out on June 2.
The drill at Grainger’s campus was only one part of a three-tiered drill that involved improvised explosive devices (IEDs) detonating in Georgia, Illinois, and Wisconsin. In Illinois, a terrorist detonated a nuclear device (briefcase bomb) in downtown Chicago, sending out a plume that, with a push from southern winds, moved north. Next, a second terrorist fleeing from law enforcement crashed into a utility pole outside Grainger’s headquarters in Lake Forest, Illinois. Another nuclear device detonated in the crash, devastating a three-mile radius, including the Grainger headquarters. The scenario called for the campus to be evacuated and mass decontamination to ensue. “More than 200 people representing businesses in Lake and Cook Counties, along with public partners representing federal, state, and local jurisdictions, participated in the full-scale disaster exercise,” notes Cox. “The focus of the event was to strengthen the relationships between public and private organizations through hands-on training.” He adds that complementing the exercises, experts from public and private organizations led discussions on topics regarding community resiliency and catastrophic response.
Among the lessons learned at the drill, for Grainger, were that a plan needs to be in place in case its headquarters goes down. Coordinating resources for disasters has traditionally taken place at the Lake Forest facility. In this scenario, taking this building out of the equation left the company without the infrastructure to allocate resources from distribution centers unaffected by the IEDs.
Vehicles on Display
Grainger can not only deliver supply and logistics support during disasters but also provide them for training exercises-including Red Dragon 2012-using the Grainger Emergency Preparedness trailer. The 75-foot unit is a self-supporting vehicle that provides support for active disaster drills and includes Internet connectivity and a meeting and inventory room stocked with the most needed products used by first responders during an actual event. Drill participants can use the mobile conference room for monitoring the drill and debriefing. “It gives exercise participants an opportunity to try out products and return them to the truck when finished,” says Cox. “This allows Grainger’s customers to not have to make additional purchases for their emergency drill events.” One example he cites is Red Dragon 2012, where Grainger was able to provide the Army Reserve with more than 30 Tyvek® suits on the spot.
(2) Squad 16 provides mobile emergency communications and
Cox adds, “The Grainger Emergency Response trailer is one of the resources Grainger provides to help businesses and institutions manage their emergency preparedness planning and prevention.”
Another unit on display and in use at the exercise is an apparatus called Squad 16. Squad 16 is headquartered in Lake County and provides mobile emergency communications and disaster relief assistance and education to the public solely in conjunction with federal, state, and local government public safety and emergency management authorities. The unit, delivered to the USA Disaster Relief Corps by Alexis Fire Equipment, has a full array of electrical equipment in its more than 24 feet of vertical rack space including a multi-path telecom IP system with a 1.2-meter VSAT, a 25-watt BUC, two Iridiums, two Telulars, one router, two switches, eight wall phones, six wireless phones, servers, one spectrum analyzer, and three uninterrupted power supplies.
Radio operations and interoperability are provided by two redundant systems (Raytheon ACU-2000 IP and ClearCom), more than 40 radios radios, two repeaters, an 80-position patch panel, and more than 50 antennas mounted on the vehicle’s 11-foot, the 30-foot mast, and the 50-foot mast. Specialized equipment mounted on top of a 50-foot mast includes a rescue searchlight, which projects usable light approximately 1.5 miles downrange, mounted alongside two long-range day/night (0.07 lux) cameras, which have a detection range of four miles, recognition at two miles, and identification at one mile. In addition, there is a 32 x 32 video matrix, 13 other cameras, 26 monitors, and a 16-channel DVR.
Cox notes that a unique part of this annual exercise is that it is paired with a symposium to exchange observations on the simulation as well as prompt local emergency response and business leaders to exchange ideas around how to work together to strengthen community resiliency.
He adds, “Emergency preparedness exercises are exhilarating and high-pressure because they seem so real. In addition, they are eye-opening because first responders get a chance to put their training and skills into practice. Exercise Red Dragon 2012 is unique because it underscores that everyone, including local and federal responders as well as businesses, has a role in preparing for disasters. This year’s exercise reinforced how critical strong relationships and the right relationships are to building an effective disaster response.”
CHRIS Mc LOONE, associate editor of Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment, is a 19-year veteran of the fire service and a captain with Weldon Fire Company (Glenside, PA). He has been a writer and editor for more than 15 years. While with Fire Engineering, he contributed to the May 2006 issue, a Jesse H. Neal Award winner for its coverage of the Hurricane Katrina response and recovery.