Simulated Campus Emergency Exercise Conducted At University Of North Florida

GlobalOptions Group Inc. a provider of domestic and international risk management services, recently announced that James Lee Witt Associates (JLWA), its Crisis Management and Preparedness Services Division joined key personnel from The Management Experts LLC, JB Coxwell Disaster Services and i.d.e.a.s.-Orlando in conducting a “Secure Scholar” functional exercise on the campus of the University of North Florida (UNF) in Jacksonville, Fla. in late March.

The “Secure Scholar” functional exercise was built on a unique scenario circumstances first presented in a preliminary workshop and tabletop exercise forum on March 13. The story designed by i.d.e.a.s.-Orlando involved a simulated response to an active shooter on the university campus.

More than 30 individuals from five Florida statewide, municipal and county agencies participated in “Secure Scholar” which was carried out as if an active shooter was evident on the campus. The exercise effort represented one of a series of recommendations for enhanced emergency preparedness activities on Florida college campus offered by the Gubernatorial Task Force on Campus Security which was convened by Florida’s Governor Charles Crist.

“The exercise platform provided us with a unique opportunity to exercise the Crisis Management Team’s response in a controlled environment,” said Jeff Durfee, director of information technology security of UNF and a member of the UNF’s Crisis Management Team. “Without the creativity of the exercise planning team, we could not have simulated the real world stress and crisis decision making adequately.”

In order to achieve realism in this simulated response, this unique scenario and multi-media presentation unfolded through the lens of a student web cam and other video media elements. This creative approach was critical to the exercise focus on the university’s Crisis Management Team’s (CMT) coordinated response. The distinctive story video approach provided stark realism to other simulated events and was instrumental to meeting the exercise objectives.

“Participants noted the value of the series of emergency planning and training sessions they conducted in advance of the exercise,” said R. Chip Patterson, director of disaster services for JB Coxwell Disaster Services and UNF-CMT exercise director. “The success of the exercise is primarily because the level of commitment and engagement of the UNF leadership and community response in exercise play.”

Lessons learned and best practices will be captured for future university planning, training and exercise efforts with the following five objectives to be ascertained: evaluate the functional exercise; Emergency Operations Center Management, On Scene Incident Management, Emergency Public Information and Warning, Citizen Evacuation and Shelter In Place and Public Safety and Security Response.

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