Sharing CHHS Experience Across the Globe – Bangalore, India

August 14th, 2013 by Eric Oddo

On August 6-7, 2013, I attended a workshop in Bangalore, India entitled “Best International Practices in Building Resilient Cities.”  The workshop was organized by the Government of Karnataka in partnership with the Synergia Foundation, a strategic think-tank that works with the public and private sector in the domains of geopolitics, geo-economics, and geo-security.

The aim of the workshop was to bring together practitioners and policymakers onto a platform for a deeper exchange of current practices and to identify possible gaps in order to build resilient operating procedures.  It sought to sensitize key stakeholders including bureaucracy, the media, and civil society about the need to have a proactive approach to mass casualty event planning.  The workshop provided a forum for both Indian and international experts to share insights, real time experience, tools and methodologies.

I attended this workshop via an invitation from and collaboration with the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR), a well-respected security-focused think-tank and consulting firm directed by Aaron Richman, and with offices in Philadelphia, Washington DC and Jerusalem.

I conducted two 90-minute presentations while in Bangalore.  The first centered upon Continuity of Operations (COOP) Planning, which represents an organization’s ability to seamlessly continue the most critical areas of it’s operation in the aftermath of an emergency or disruption.  Concepts addressed included risk assessments, business impact analyses, essential functions, human capital management, resource assessments, alternate facilities, communications, reconstitution, devolution, and emergency exercise and evaluation planning.  I provided the Indian audience with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) informational tools, resources and templates that can aid them as they begin the process of developing COOP plans for their individual agency.

The topic of my second presentation was the Incident Command System (ICS) and Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT).  ICS is a set of personnel, policies, procedures, facilities, and equipment, integrated into a common organizational structure designed to improve emergency response operations of all types and complexities. ICS is a subcomponent of the National Incident Management System (NIMS).  CERTs represent an organization of volunteer emergency workers who have received specific training in basic disaster response skills, and who agree to supplement existing emergency responders in the event of a major disaster.  I encouraged the Indian audience to take online FEMA courses on each of these subjects in order to enhance their depth of understanding.

In addition to my presentations, a number of renowned experts in homeland security and emergency management from both India and around the world spoke on a myriad of critically important matters.  Topics that were particularly enlightening to me included: “Genesis and Manifestation of Urban Terror”, “CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear) and the Response of Cities”, “Tactical Medicine: History, Basics and Updates”, “Role of Media in National Security”, and “Role of Information in Proactive Decision-making.”

At the end of the workshop, the participants took part in a comprehensive Tabletop Exercise, the scenario of which featured an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) being detonated in the parking garage of a hospital.  Participants enthusiastically discussed how they would activate their emergency response plans in response to this hypothetical event.

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