Exercises Help in Disaster Training

HATTIESBURG, MS (THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI) – The scenarios may be concocted, but the threat to public safety is all too real as officials with the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NSC4) at The University of Southern Mississippi work diligently on disaster preparedness and training.

As part of a 2008 Emergency Management for Higher Education grant, NCS4 has conducted two of three required Table Top Exercises (TTX) to test emergency management plans. Jim McGee, program coordinator at NCS4, said the final TTX is scheduled for sometime in August.

McGee noted that generally five-to-six departments from within the university community have participated in the exercises along with a handful of outside emergency/law enforcement agencies.

"USM's faculty and staff exhibited a great amount of interest and involvement with each TTX," said McGee. "This effort was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and places us ahead of the curve in terms of emergency planning and preparation. All of those involved should be commended for their proactive stance when it comes to training to address a critical incident that could impact the university."

McGee points out that the overall objective of each exercise is to increase awareness within the university and local community regarding certain "all-hazard" scenarios and the recognition of vulnerabilities that may exist that could exacerbate each incident should it occur. The initial exercise dealt with a potential pandemic threat, while the second TTX involved a cyber breach. The final exercise will address severe weather/special needs community disasters.

The TTX work conducted by McGee and fellow NCS4 staff members has caught the attention of EMT Associates, headquartered in Folsom, Calif., which recently published a comprehensive piece on the exercises. EMT Associates is a multi-faceted company designed to meet the evaluation, management and training needs of public and non-profit organizations nationwide.

"EMT Associates works in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education, the agency that awarded us with the grant," said McGee. "Our efforts were recognized for addressing pressing issues that potentially impacts all institutions of higher learning."

Established in 2006, The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security was created to provide an interdisciplinary academic environment to further increase sport security awareness; improve sport security policies and procedures and enhance emergency response through evacuation, recovery operations and crowd management training.

For more information about the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security, visit www.NCS4.com

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