Orioles & Ravens collaborate in leadership tabletop exercise

By John Roche
CHHS Research Assistant, summer 2010

Here’s the scenario: It’s October 2010. The Orioles have reached the playoffs and the Ravens season is underway. Both teams have a game on the same Sunday evening, and the Camden Yards area is mobbed by excited fans. At M&T Bank Stadium, Ravens fans are celebrating a victory as time expires. The excitement of the occasion turns to sudden panic as a suspicious package is located in M&T Bank Stadium and someone screams “BOMB!”  People flee from the stadium and panic spreads to the patrons entering Oriole Park. At that moment, an explosion occurs inside Oriole Park, followed by another explosion on the overpass between the two stadiums. Mass panic ensues. What actions will be taken to secure the area, provide safe evacuation routes, and supply medical aid?

Fortunately, the Maryland Stadium Authority, Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore Orioles, and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) jointly sponsored a tabletop exercise to discuss scenarios such as the one above. On July 15, 2010, a group of stadium partners and local emergency responders, with the assistance of CHHS and the FBI, met in the M&T Bank Stadium press room to ensure public safety through collaborative partnerships. The broad spectrum of attendees represented a number of groups, including the Ravens and Orioles; stadium vendors; representatives from merchandising, parking, and janitorial services; the Maryland Stadium Authority; Baltimore City police and fire departments; the FBI, and CHHS.

The July 15 tabletop exercise was designed to present a plausible scenario that would test emergency preparedness and response capabilities as well as the interaction between stadium partners during simultaneous Ravens and Orioles games. Participants discussed three separate threat levels. The first involved a heightened fear of a terrorist attack in the area. The second level considered the presence of a suspicious package located on the premises potentially containing an explosive device, and the resulting panic as fans are informed. The third level focused on the coordinated emergency response to an on-site bombing incident.

The tabletop exercise also helped reinforce key skills for managing an incident and mitigating its effects. Because maintaining close communication and the fast implementation of pre-existing plans is vital for mitigating the effects of any emergency, exercise participants were tasked with executing their own Emergency Operations Plan while maintaining communication and coordination with other partners. Participating partners were also able to reinforce their understanding of Incident Command System (ICS), as they practiced setting up a unified command and using the ICS structure to make important decisions, ensure clear communication, maximize available resources, and increase the overall effectiveness of the response effort.

The tabletop exercise concluded with a general sense of optimism in the stadium partners’ ability to defuse a chaotic situation and protect the public. The exercise participants demonstrated the proficiency they have already achieved while also overcoming areas of concern. CHHS was on hand to track important breakthroughs and recommend additions to existing Ravens and Orioles emergency plans.

Participants agreed that collaborative exercises like this one are necessary for maintaining the best possible preparedness plan to protect the public and business interests involved. CHHS will continue to provide its insight on emergency management in Baltimore and beyond to ensure businesses maintain thorough and well-practiced plans.

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