Mile High DICE 2011

In October 2011, O.M.E.G.A. joined the Colorado Federal Executive Board (CFEB), the Rocky Mountain Intergovernmental Continuity Council, to participate in the planning of Mile High DICE 2011 FEMA Region VIII exercise.  It was the CFEB’s strong desire to have volunteer organizations and members within the private sector participate.  DICE is an acronym that stands for Denver Inter-agency Continuity Exercise.  The City and County of Denver Office of Emergency Management (OEM) offered their Emergency Operating Center (EOC) as the base of operations for the exercise.

For most participants of Mile High DICE 2011, the exercise started the evening of April 12, 2011 with a number of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) detonating at key areas along the Colorado Front Range, primarily within the metropolitan Denver area.

Our portion of DICE was divided into four parts: Operation Snake Eyes, EOC Support for DICE 2011, CoCat, LLC and City of Castle Pines exercise participation.

Operation Snake Eyes

Since the parent exercise was called DICE, the full scale volunteer responder component played off the name with a pair of six-sided dice displaying ones on top – a pair of ones is called Snake Eyes by gamblers.

Operation Snake Eyes was a full scale CERT exercise for volunteer responders in the North Central Region (NCR).  The NCR is organized around the ten metropolitan counties.  Also participating in the exercise were Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), Civil Air Patrol (CAP), Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), Rampart Search and Rescue (SAR), Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

The Operation Snake Eyes scenario was based on an improvised explosive device (IED) detonating at a large public venue, in our case a rock concert.  The objective of the exercise was to test volunteer responder preparedness as they organized themselves under the Incident Command System, performed assessment of the area for potential safety hazards, conducted search and triage of the survivors and prepared the injured for transport.

For more details about Operation Snake Eyes, please see page 4.

City and County of Denver EOC

Max Khaytsus and Jenn Scott represented O.M.E.G.A. at the Denver Emergency Operations Center.  They coordinated the voice and digital traffic into the FEMA SimCells.  What is a SimCell?  It is short for “simulation cell”.  Emergency management uses a SimCell during training exercises to provide communications between the participants and simulated outside agencies.

We used the SimCell to track our progress with the private company CoCat and the City of Castle Pines.

CoCat, LLC

CoCat is a company specializing in property restoration services (fire, flood, mold, storm, sewage, vandalism, hazardous material, crime scene and computer disk forensics).

CoCat had recently moved to their present location and wanted to see if the fire drill procedures from their old building would easily transfer to their present location.

Donita Hilfinger and Gary Freeman joined me in facilitating the exercise at CoCat.

The scenario:  On April 12 a number of IEDs were detonated in the Denver metropolitan area, creating a number of cascading fires.  CoCat was contracted to perform disk forensics on a damaged computer.  When the forensics technician pulled the cover off the computer, located inside was a package of unknown origin.

Once the “package” was discovered and the SimCell notified, the employees of CoCat (all 80 of them at this location) made an orderly fire drill evacuation.  The facility was evacuated in about five minutes once the alarm was activated.

After the all clear was made and the employees were allowed back in the building, our exercise team and the CoCat team felt the basic components of the fire drill were successful.  However, both teams would like to fine tune a number of areas to improve the process.  We will be scheduling follow up meetings in the future.

We would like to thank Mickey Lewis and the CoCat team for participating in Mile High DICE 2011.

City of Castle Pines, Colorado

The City of Castle Pines has a population of approximately 10,000 residents.  They rely on South Metro Fire District for fire prevention, response and emergency medical services (EMS).  For law enforcement they rely on the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Loring Abeyta, Donita Hilfinger and Gary Freeman joined me in facilitating the exercise at the City of Castle Pines.

Mile High DICE at Castle Pines

City of Castle Pines exercise team. Photo by L. Abeyta.

The Castle Pines Scenario:  On April 12, a number of IEDs were detonated in the Denver metropolitan area, creating a number of cascading fires.  Fire departments and law enforcement agencies have been swamped with 911 calls.  On April 13 a package arrived in the office of the Public Works Director and started to leak a sticky substance.  A call was made into the 911 center and it was advised that the building is to be evacuated until the bomb squad arrives.  The original estimated time of arrival was ten minutes.  However, the simulated Douglas County EOC gave the 911 caller an undetermined time of arrival due to other pending calls.

Castle Pines CERT was called in to facilitate the building evacuation.  Castle Pines CERT set up ICS protocols, sized up the building and performed a virtual evacuation (performed a census of the building occupants and their guests).

The City of Castle Pines was pleased to report that in the event where they had to rely on volunteers to bridge the gap if professional first responders were delayed in assisting in an emergency, they know that they can count on CERT.

The exercise was completed in one hour and we will be meeting with the Castle Pines CERT for a review of the exercise.

We would like to thank Eric Guth, Castle Pines Public Works Director, for his participation and for providing a facility to host the exercise, the Castle Pines CERT team for their participation and demonstration of how CERT can fill in when needed, Mickey Lewis and CoCat for providing lunch for the exercise and Carolyn Bluhm and the Denver Office of Emergency Management for connecting O.M.E.G.A. with FEMA Region VIIII and giving us the opportunity to be a part of this regional exercise.  We are looking forward to next year’s DICE.

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