I recently had the pleasure of attending the Colorado Governor's Emergency Management Conferenceas one of the presenters. As I was wandering around the breakout rooms, I noticed a small conference room filled with communications equipment and very intense looking people. When I asked, I was told that the Colorado Division of Emergency Management had brought in an ICS overhead team and established an alternate emergency operations center. The EOC was supporting conference activities but was prepared to switch to actual operations if necessary. With so many emergency managers at the conference, they felt that this was a prudent precaution.
We complain about never having enough money to train, but how often do we take the opportunity to use what we have? My old friend, Kent Paxton, introduced me to the concept many years ago - he used local civic events as opportunities to train his incident management team and test communications. I later did the same in San Francisco.
Supporting non-emergency events provide a number of benefits besides just the training opportunity. It also allows you to demonstrate value to the communityby providing the planning and coordination skills that are often lacking in such events. My team in San Francisco once provided planning support during a garbage strike and scored a lot of points with the Mayor's staff.
A second benefit is that it positions you to react in case something does go wrong. I was at a field command post observing a search and rescue exercise using multiple scenarios in San Bernadino when an actual missing persons search was requested. The incident management team switched several teams off their scenarios and deployed them on the real mission while continuing to coordinate the other teams involved in the exercise. It was smooth and professionally done.
So the next time you're asked to help out a non-emergency event, don't duck it. Consider whether it might not be an opportunity to do some serious training at little cost!