Pawlet Emergency Management Exercise, January 2014

Pawlet Emergency Management Exercise, January 2014 (Source: Robert Morlino)

On January 23, 2014, the town of Pawlet conducted a tabletop exercise to assess how it would handle a significant flooding event. The exercise, held at the Pawlet Volunteer Fire Department’s firehouse, was coordinated by Robert Morlino, Pawlet emergency management director.

The scenario presented to the group of 26 participants was a flooding event with slightly more disastrous impacts than the real-world effects from Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011.  The major difference between this scenario and actual events post- Irene was that this exercise assumed widespread power outages, causing a greater challenge for communication and coordination between the response agencies.

Participants discussed how their agencies would prepare for, respond to, and recover from such an event. A major area of focus involved the communication and coordination between different levels of responders, local, county and state, as well as the ability of the town of Pawlet to operate an emergency operations center during an emergency.

Several participants said they appreciated the opportunity to spend time with all the key players from different groups who would be working together under difficult circumstances. This allowed everyone to strengthen their working relationships and gain a better understanding of each others’ roles during such an event.

Those participating included Pawlet emergency management officials, members from the Pawlet and West Pawlet volunteer fire departments and the Pawlet Highway Department, as well as representatives from the Mettawee Community School, Pawlet shelter management, Vermont State Police, American Red Cross, Vermont Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, Vermont Public Safety Answering Point (e911), Rutland Regional Planning Commission, Vermont Department of Health, Vermont Emergency Operations Center, and the Washington County, N.Y., Department of Public Safety.

Results from this exercise will be incorporated into Pawlet’s Emergency Operations Plan. The overall goal is to improve public safety in Pawlet.