According to Carmen Riches, chief, Base Exercise Programs, the goal with base-wide exercises is to practice responding to events that might happen at Wright-Patterson AFB, but she also pointed out a factor that caused adjustments during the course of the exercise.
That factor came in the form of forecasted storms, which, ironically enough, caused the cancellation of a robust tornado response exercise later in the week.
“When real-world weather rolled in on Thursday, we canceled our weather exercise,” Riches said.
With an unfavorable weather forecast of high winds and storms to consider, and after due deliberation among Wing Inspection Team members, it was decided to cancel that event. Riches said the importance of safety for the emergency responders, the exercise volunteer role-players and the base populace affected by the exercise events could not be overstated.
“In planning, we use an abundance of caution to ensure people always know ‘This is an exercise,’” Riches said. “If there’s any doubt people could think the exercise is real, we make adjustments. In this case we did just that.”
Although some of the planned scenarios were canceled, many unit-level events, such as employing an automated external defibrillator on a heart attack victim and also exercising a unit’s continuity of operations plan, or COOP, were scrutinized.
A COOP details actions that a unit must take if forced to relocate should their main work center no longer is viable. While lower in visibility to the rest of the installation, these COOP exercises allowed units the valuable opportunity to validate plans designed to ensure that a unit can continue its mission-essential functions and tasks from an alternate location if called upon to do so. Resources such as computer connectivity, communications, adequate facilities and other factors are assessed and workers are tested to confirm, or show the need to amend, these important organizational contingency plans.
Stating her final thoughts about the exercise Riches repeated the time-honored axiom of “practice makes perfect.” Then, as a post script to the canceled weather exercise, she had a real-world reminder for Team Wright-Patt.
“Even though we didn’t exercise our ‘tornado,’ it’s a high risk here in the Dayton area,” Riches said. “Always make sure that you and your family are prepared.”
Upon evaluating the results of the recent exercise, Riches and the Wing Inspection Team members will turn their sights on the next exercise, which is planned for July 31 through Aug. 4.