CERT Represents Town at Urban Shield Exercise

Posted by Alora Wachholz on Dec 20, 2013
Tags: Community, Events, Public Safety, TCFD, TCPD, Town News, Volunteer

On Saturday, November 9, 2013, Urban Shield and the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) jointly hosted a series of full-scale mock disaster exercises aimed at assessing and promoting the capabilities of local professional emergency management plans, first responders and their equipment, and community response initiatives.  Both the Cities of Dallas and Fort Worth were involved in this program, with eight mirrored scenarios occurring at the same time in locations near each metropolitan area.  Scenarios were varied and covered a myriad of topics including: an airplane crash in a field at Tarrant County College, an active shooter at Stipes Elementary in Irving, a trench rescue, and hostage negotiation situations, to name a few.

The Town of Trophy Club is proud to have been represented at this event by members of our very own Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), which is headed by Officer Scott Voigt.  Police Chief Kniffen was also a participant in the event and Mayor White attended a very special tour opportunity for community officials, hosted by the NCTCOG, who were able to travel to a series of exercises via bus and observe response initiatives up close and in real time, with volunteers acting as victims. 

“The actors were so real and it was difficult to watch them and the responders performing triage.  Seeing the difficulty of handling both the seriously wounded and the less so but more active victims was amazing and gave me more insight into the challenges our first responders face.  Makes one realize the danger and understand more about how these events play out.  When we were walking from one area to another, we passed a plane crash site – one of the ‘victims’ implored “please can someone help us?”  Even knowing this was an exercise, it was incredibly difficult for me to walk past that.” – Mayor White, of her experience on the tour

Not only was this massive series of events executed around DFW exceptionally well, but it was the first time in the US that Urban Shield designed emergency training events which incorporated Citizen Corps programs, such as CERT.  Members of these locally-trained emergency response groups were eligible to be placed on special assignment at the Tarrant County College, participating in any number of important search and rescue drills.
Typically, these full-scale exercises are used to test the capabilities of professional first responders, such as police officers, firefighters, bomb squads, and SWAT teams in an effort to assess where their current emergency operations plans succeed, and where they fall short and require improvements.  This year, members of the Regional Citizens Corps Council at the NCTCOG advocated that CERT members be included in the exercises, since DFW has such an active local response community.
“When emergencies happen in North Texas, CERT members are often dispatched quickly and play a significant role in assisting local fire and police departments in the initial hours after disaster.  Although these individuals are given specialized training for such events, providing them opportunities to practice these skills in a realistic scenario alongside professional first responders is an invaluable chance to improve vital communications and processes that would otherwise go unsorted until a real emergency occurs.” – Jessica Mason: Emergency Preparedness Department at the NCTCOG

The result was overwhelming; with more than 27 regional Emergency Operations Centers participating and thousands of first responders and citizens becoming involved, the exercises were able to help spread the word about the value of emergency protocol during disasters.
“The commitment of all the participants was amazing.  I know we will learn much from this effort, from improving how we communicate to improved training and knowledge of which equipment is most beneficial and worth the investment.  While we all hope none of these events ever happen, we know they do and it is so important to be prepared.” – Mayor White

We would like to give a warm ‘Thank You’ to our CERT members, Chief Kniffen, Mayor White, our professional first responders, and any other resident of Trophy Club who participated in the event for representing our community positively and for investing yourself in our collective safety.

If you are interested in learning more about our local CERT program, please visit http://www.trophyclubfd.org/administration/volunteer-opportunities/ or contact Officer Scott Voigt at svoight@ci.trophyclub.tx.us Phone: 682-831-4651.

*Photos courtesy of Eduardo Balderas, MPA- Emergency Management Department at the City of Rowlett FD*