National Incident Management System (NIMS)
While most emergencies are handled locally, major incidents usually require the help from other jurisdictions, the state and the federal government. NIMS, was developed by DHS/FEMA to ensure emergency personnel from multiple jurisdictions and disciplines can work together when responding to emergencies, including natural and/or man-made disasters. NIMS, provides a unified approach to incident management, standard command and management structure, and an emphasis on preparedness, mutual aid and resource management.
The National Incident Management System (NIMS) defines preparedness as “a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating, and taking corrective action in an effort to ensure effective coordination during incident response.” This ‘preparedness cycle’ is one element of a broader National Preparedness System to prevent, respond to, recover from, and mitigate natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.
The Urban Shield Exercise
Urban Shield is a national model, full-scale exercise, designed to assess and validate the speed, effectiveness and efficiency of capabilities, as well as test the adequacy of regional policies, plans, procedures and protocols. Urban Shield incorporates regional critical infrastructure, emergency operation centers, regional communication systems, equipment and assets, as well as personnel representing all aspects of emergency response including intelligence, law enforcement, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Units, Fire, EMS, etc. The Urban Shield Exercise is unique because of its focus on training during the exercise. This training provides first responders, homeland security officials, emergency management officials, private and non-governmental partners, and other personnel with the knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to perform key tasks required in large-scale disasters.
Critical Infrastructure Incorporated / Evaluated
Urban Shield incorporates critical infrastructure into the exercise. This provides an opportunity for regional emergency managers and UASI representations to better prepare for the identified risks associated with each facility. In addition, first responders are provided an opportunity to familiarize themselves with facility specifics and become better prepared for an actual emergency response. Incorporating the security systems and personnel into the exercise not only trains and prepares private security personnel, it provides the MBHSR Region an opportunity to test and evaluate the emergency plans and systems of the involved facilities. In addition, this exercise helps to familiarize all related entities with one another and build positive public/private relationships.
Evaluation and Improvement Plans
The evaluation and improvement of mission and task performance is the final step of the DHS/FEMA Preparedness Cycle. During the Urban Shield Exercise, all critical components are evaluated to determine their current state of operational readiness. A comprehensive After Action Report (AAR) is completed and addresses regional risk assessments and related vulnerabilities. The AAR identifies gaps and provides a regional roadmap in the form of improvement plans. The AAR provides UASI Regions with critical information to assist in allocating future resources, assets, training, etc. In addition, The Urban Shield Exercise model provides UASI Regions a tool to measure their effectiveness from year to year in order to determine progress and ensure the grant funds utilized are spent wisely and result in the “buying down” of risk.
Regional first responders are involved in the planning, coordination and/or management of this training event. Participating command and support personnel will benefit from the experience, which is designated to strengthen abilities in the following areas:
• Implementation of the National Incident Management System (NIMS)
• Implementation of the National Response Plan (NRP)
• Emergency Operations Planning
• Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Management
• Incident Management and Teamwork
Based on the exercise planning team’s deliberations, the following objectives were developed for Boston Urban Shield 2011:
1. Test communication and management capabilities with a focus on Emergency Operation Centers within the Region.
2. Integrate critical infrastructure and their onsite private security personnel to test public/private sector emergency plans and unified response.
3. Evaluate regional fire, search and rescue, response capabilities with a focus on core competencies.
4. Evaluate regional explosive ordnance disposal team’s response capabilities with a focus on core competencies.
5. Evaluate regional tactical capabilities related to a variety of terrorist threats.