« Continuity of Operations Planning

Salt Lake City County hosts comprehensive tabletop exercise

Responders in Salt Lake City went through an extensive tabletop exercise.
Responders in Salt Lake City went through an extensive tabletop exercise.

In recent years, the United States have gone through a significant amount of distress from natural and manmade disasters— preventing local communities from getting their operations back in order. Due to a rise of incidents, more cities and towns have developed a continuity of operations plan. Often times, these plans have not been practiced, which is more likely to cause confusion for emergency responder when these situations occur.

Last month, many public service workers and volunteers came together to participate in Utah's largest tabletop exercise—helping firefighters, police officers and EMTs understand what is expected of them if a similar event happens in their state.

Through the support of 130 volunteers and funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, more than 900 responders reported to the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School in Salt Lake City, to learn how to handle a mass shooting, according to the Deseret News.

"It's a matter of always being prepared, and the only way you can do that is by creating these realistic scenarios," event organizer Nicole Martin told the source. "You go through the exercises, go through the process, make it as real as possible, and of course you evaluate at the end."

The training included multiple components like transporting an injured civilian via helicopter to a local hospital and getting students out of the classroom safely during this chaotic time.

"Just dealing with a scene of this magnitude, it lets us know how to utilize our resources," Brian Plummer of the South Salt Lake Fire Department explained.

Utah's emergency management team is expected to host five more tabletop exercises, giving responders as much experience as they can. Business continuity consultants can help other communities  conduct the training they need to be prepared in the future.