Kansas City District Exercises Plan

Published July 31, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Mo., — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Emergency Management Branch conducted an exercise on July 30 to review the current Continuity of Operations Plan. All essential personnel gathered at an undisclosed alternate location to test their ability to relocate and continue the core functions of the district during an emergency situation. The COOP exercise, part of the Kansas City Regional Interagency COOP Exercise 2014, is an annual exercise led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency Region VII to provide Midwest federal agencies the opportunity to test their organizations’ preparedness in the event that they cannot operate at their primary location. The Emergency Operations Center for the Kansas City District participates in the Kansas City RICE every year but it is the first time in several years that the district as a whole has been able to be involved. “Since it has been several years since the district has been able to test for the COOP at this level due to real world situations and other operation requirements, the focus of the exercise this year was on training and entailed an overview and familiarization of the COOP processes,” said Jud Kneuvean, Chief, Emergency Operations. The intent is to make sure that the district is prepared to configure the alternate location and to be familiar with each of the requirements to get the alternate location up and running within the first 12 hours after an event, said Kneuvean. The focus of this year’s event was reconstitution which is the process by which agency personnel resume normal agency operations from the original or replacement primary operating facility. “When you look at relocating to an alternate location, you will never have the 100 percent solution, said John Robinson, National Emergency Preparedness Program Manager. “You have to be able to pick up and do the best you can do with what you have.” Some of the threats that could result in the district relocating to continue operations could be as simple as an act of God such as a tornado or fire or could be as serious as a terrorist attack. Regardless of the situation, continuity planning is simply the good business practice of ensuring the execution of essential functions through all circumstances, according to the plan. During the exercise, the district reviewed the plan and tested some of the emergency operations systems such as WebEOC and the Regional Emergency Alert Notification Tool. A full accountability drill was conducted through the REACT system and there was a good response to the system. “The good response is probably due to most people currently sitting at their desk,” said Josh Marx, Natural Disaster Program Manager. But this is the first time that the system has been tested in this manner. There were several good lessons learned during the exercise to include that a “Culture of Continuity,” should be integrated into all aspects of the daily operations at the district. “It is important to be familiar with the plan and it is important for supervisors to ensure that their employees are aware of the COOP plan and what will happen if there is ever an emergency within the district,” said Robinson. With this years’ exercise being focused primarily on familiarization of processes, the district will now be able to test actual responses at future training events. “This has been a good exercise,” said Col. Andrew Sexton, District Commander. “We need to do this again and ramp things up to further test capabilities and systems.” – 30 –

Release no. PA-2014-41