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Responders, Officials Participate in Mission Readiness Experiment

On Nov. 30, first responder agencies participated in a mission readiness experiment to determine how responders and officials would react to a major event.

The Advanced Incident Command Experiment simulated a tanker truck spill on a major interstate near Providence, R.I. The 4-hour experiment was held in the high-tech modeling and simulation facilities at Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems (IDS) Headquarters Mission Center in Tewksbury, Mass.

“Coordinating a response to a complex civil emergency with many players, each with distinct capabilities, procedures, communications systems and management chains, is very similar to the challenges faced in managing military and security operations,” said Lee Silvestre, who leads the Raytheon IDS Mission Innovation. “By using advanced modeling and simulation, we are able to reveal issues impacting performance, challenge our assumptions, and stress the current system in a no-risk, low-cost environment.”

Federal, state and local agencies interested in improving their protocols and procedures in serious incidence response took part in the exercise. Participants hailed from the Providence Fire Department, Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency, Providence Emergency Management Agency and Office of Homeland Security, United States Coast Guard, Rhode Island State Police, the Rhode Island Department of Health, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and the Narragansett Bay Commission.

“Valuable Tool for Fire Services”

Leo Messier, director of Providence's Emergency Management Agency and Office of Homeland Security, said the exercise provided opportunities for responders “to improve our capabilities and procedures when responding to a major incident” as well as providing training opportunities for managers and supervisors.

“As this system is developed further, it can be used to train new supervisors who may lack some of the hands-on experience managing actual major emergency situations,” Messier said.

Michael Dillion, assistance chief of the Providence Fire Department, said the experiment “is a valuable tool for fire services.”

Silvestre cited plans to conduct additional exercises in the future, which would include more role players, communications and face-to-face play, as well as creating scenarios closer to real-world incident management experience.

“This is not a one-time thing,” Silvestre said. “We hope to do this periodically, with different scenarios and missions, including others to get different perspectives and a more complete understanding of the situations civil authorities face.”

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