State, city and county leaders undergo critical response training for terrorism, catastrophes
More than 100 public safety and health workers on Thursday completed the first test of a major evacuation plan for metropolitan Atlanta in the event the region faces a major natural catastrophe or act of terrorism.
The test, administered by the Metro Atlanta Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) and conducted at the Atlanta Regional Commission, focused on emergency operations, communications, traffic management, mass care and shelter and involved plans of evacuation for each of the participating jurisdictions.
“A catastrophe might initially and immediately affect a single locality. But in due course, it often affects a broader range of people and thus requires a regional…sometimes national… response,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “I am pleased that everyone involved in this endeavor has joined with the spirit of cooperation and collaboration, with the recognition that it requires many different hands at many different levels of government and across the public-private spectra.”
Mayor Reed serves as the chairman of Metro Atlanta UASI’s Senior Policy Group. The Metro Atlanta UASI region includes the City of Atlanta, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett counties. For this test, the region members also worked with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and Cherokee, Douglas, Fayette, Henry and Rockdale counties.
“We appreciate all of the hard work and collaboration that all the partners have contributed to the success of this table top exercise,” said Rodney Rancifer, Director of Public Safety Compliance for Metro Atlanta UASI. “However, there is still much to do. We will have a functional exercise in November 2011 that will involve the simulated activation of 10 emergency operation centers. We are planning tabletop exercises for our elected leadership, more exercises, and we are developing a citizen evacuation information packet.”
UASI was developed in 2003 as a result of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2002. The program was established to provide grants to assist high-risk urban areas in preventing, protecting, responding and recovering from acts of terrorism.
Since then, the Metro Atlanta UASI has been actively engaged in strategic planning efforts with local, state and federal partners to ensure effective communications within the region in the event of an incident. In 2006, the program also began to concentrate on more regional collaborative efforts in the areas of fire, police, medical and citizen preparedness. In June, the program completed a draft of its Regional Evacuation Coordinating Plan.
Mayor Kasim Reed, who addressed the participants Thursday, said Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans and Louisiana in 2005, proved that “emergency efforts take more than a village. It takes a lot of villages, hundreds of villages.”
For more information about Metro Atlanta UASI, visit http://www.atlantauasi.com.