Regional Partners Come Together to Test Maryland’s Mass Casualty Response

In Montgomery and Prince George’s County, first responders and emergency management personnel are better prepared for a mass casualty incident following two full-scale exercises today at the Discovery Sports Center and Six Flags America.  Funded through FEMA’s Urban Area Securities Initiative, the events brought together more than 20 regional partners from across Maryland.

The scenario, explosive detonations at large sports and recreation facilities in Maryland’s National Capital Region, allowed local fire, police, emergency medical services, emergency management, and coordinating agencies to test the state’s Emergency Response System when a high volume of injuries and casualties are involved.  In Montgomery County, decontamination procedures following the release of a hazardous material were also assessed, while an active-shooter at the Prince George’s County exercise added additional response hurdles. Life-like moulage (make-up applied during exercises to simulate injuries) on volunteers helped on-scene medical responders gain experience in diagnosing and treating victims.

For the past year the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS) has worked with the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems and regional stakeholders to develop today’s exercises.  The exercise specifically tested county Emergency Response System plans, tracking of patients transported to regional hospitals, coordination and delivery of requested resources needed at each scene, effectiveness of partnerships with private businesses in the area, and the overall command and control of the incident response. Having plans in place to deal with all types of hazards, from severe weather to man-made catastrophes, is imperative to emergency preparedness.  Carrying out those plans through exercises that mimic potential real-world events are just as important to ensure regional partners have the resources and hands-on experience to respond.

“The Center was employed here to really facilitate the discussions among subject matter experts,” said Tom Cotter, CHHS Senior Policy Analyst and the exercise director for Montgomery County’s portion of today’s effort. “Our team pulled together all of these pieces of knowledge from stakeholders into the level of detail we expect in a comprehensive exercise.  Afterwards we will combine our observations, both our staff’s and participating experts’, into an after action report, and that will give us a good analysis and recommendations for improvement” prior to a real-world incident affecting the health and welfare of citizens in the region.

Past clients utilizing CHHS Exercise and Training team expertise have included local governments across Maryland and the State’s Emergency Management Agency, as well as colleges, hospitals, and the D.C Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.  CHHS also offers planning services in continuity of operations, critical infrastructure protection, interoperability, mass evacuation and sheltering, and resource management.

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