At least once a year, we test our dispatch protocols to ensure we have accurate contact information for all responders and can efficiently reach out to you all. Typically, this involves a phone-tree-style approach, with neighborhood team captains reaching out to members using a call sheet. This year, the plan went through a bit of a shakeup.
On Saturday, September 24th, around 9:00 AM, designated team captains were notified via text message from Allen’s Computer Aided Dispatch system that CERT had been activated for a drill. Upon notification, all available team captains jumped in their vehicles and headed for the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) which happens to be the Ron Gentry Fire Training Center. Along the way, they checked in and received updates using our new CERT-designated N5UIG amateur radio repeater. Upon arrival, command staff roles were assigned and an initial briefing was given by Brian LeVasseur, the appointed Incident Commander for the event. The team captains continued with reaching out to all CERT responders to confirm reachability and availability. Once enough responders were available, teams were mobilized to elementary schools around the city to perform damage assessments and report back intelligence.
At times, the exercise was challenging, demanding, confusing, and chaotic. However, the objectives were accomplished and we learned many lessons that will greatly enhance our operational capabilities.
A debriefing is scheduled for Wednesday, October 5th, 7:30 PM at La Madeleine. Everyone is welcome to attend and observe and/or provide feedback.
We hope to execute a dispatch simulation semi-annually so look for a communication early next year. Don’t forget to check your contact information.