FEMA plans major disaster exercise

FORT DIX, NJ – The Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) will stage a full-scale mass-casualty disaster exercise, beginning Friday, August 4, 2006 through Sunday, August 6, 2006.

The purpose of the exercise is to refine and test FEMA Region II’s federal medical response teams’ ability to rapidly provide an evacuation, treatment and staging capability in response to a catastrophic event.

Nationally, NDMS has over 9000 personnel belonging to 102 teams with the mission of providing health and related services to meet the needs of victims of a public health emergency, like in support of the National Response Plan (NRP) to provide care in a disaster.

The joint exercise simulates the catastrophic impact of a major hurricane affecting the United States Mid-Atlantic Coast, resulting in a large number of potentially injured evacuees. In this simulated scenario, evacuees will be transported to a regional medical receiving facility. Moulaged evacuees will be triaged on arrival and treated in the joint field medical hospitals before being transferred notionally to definitive care sites within the United States.

To prepare for the mass-casualty exercise, FEMA Region II teams, including three federal Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMAT) as well as subject matter experts from the Disaster Mortuary Team (DMORT) and the Disaster Veterinary Team (DVAT), will train in a series of integrated didactic and field exercise sessions prior to the exercise starting on Saturday. The exercise will be attended by over 250 federal disaster personnel, in addition to their military medical counterparts.

The federal disaster teams involved in the exercise were heavily deployed in response to Hurricane Katrina and Rita and have responded to all major US disaster, credible threat and high profile national events in the last 15 years.

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