A large county agency needed to conduct a major exercise that involved public and private sector participants from various cities to better prepare for the potential for a pandemic (H1N5 Avian Influenza). The effort was to include public agencies, emergency responders, city representatives, hospitals, and major local area companies. A major concern was the potential for illness in 50% of the population, which would result in the loss of services, school closures, disruption to emergency services, overwhelmed hospitals and healthcare providers, food shortages, lost business, and long-term major reductions in revenue.
MLC worked with county and city representatives, along with local hospitals and healthcare agencies, to plan a multi-day exercise that would first encompass the impact of a pandemic during an event then (1 month later) conduct a follow-up exercise to deal with the aftermath of a pandemic. This effort required a major planning effort to coordinate activities, develop customized exercise injects (scripts), and ensure that all resources were available for two separate exercise dates. In addition, MLC worked to solicit private sector participation from the major employers in the area. Further, MLC developed a program to train multiple Facilitators and Observers to fully document both exercise events. MLC then developed collateral materials and trained the Facilitators and Observers prior to the exercises to ensure that they were prepared and ready.
During each exercise, MLC functioned as the lead manager over the Facilitators and Observers and provided advice when needed to ensure that the exercises progressed as planned. Immediately following each exercise, MLC helped facilitate the debriefings then documented the results in comprehensive After Action Reports that included key aspects of the exercises, lessons learned, strengths, and areas for improvement.
After the exercises were complete and the After Action Reports were distributed, the county, as well as the cities and private sector participants, felt that the effort greatly helped in preparing the community for a pandemic. As part of the process, the county, cities, hospitals, and private sector businesses were able to incorporate the lessons learned into their pandemic planning and were more confident in their abilities to address the needs of the community.