Drills, Tabletops and Exercises at Kennesaw State University
Developing plans and procedures makes the University prepared for most crisis situations. However, those plans and supporting procedures cannot lay idle and must be updated as personnel and facilities change. That said, the other major factor is ensuring those plans and procedures function as intended. The only way to accomplish this is to test the plans and procedures with hands on participation from the people who will be supporting the Public Safety Department in their mitigation efforts. In essence, we test, update, test again, update again and continue this process in a never ending cycle.
The ability to test specific scenarios without having to mobilize actual resources is the primary goal in this type test. Scenarios are created that have the ability to test response capabilities of individual personnel, departments and response units. Examples include a building fire which prohibits use for a day or week, hazardous chemical spills that prohibit occupation of specific buildings or areas, and tornado damage prohibiting access to the entire campus for a specified time. Many issues of Business Continuity, the ability to maintain operations in the same status or recover quickly, is the foremost need to test.
Drills come in many forms with most people having been exposed at some point in their lives to fire drills and evacuations. KSU has performed drills to test evacuation procedures using its Crisis Management Program of Crisis Coordinators designated in each building and training of such to support both evacuations and sheltering in processes. Fire drills will be performed during class times in the future to ensure not only our staff and faculty know what to do, but our student body.
Exercises are performed using real time responses to critical simulated situations by the Crisis Coordinators, KSU Public Safety, Cobb County Fire and other agencies based on the scenario in play. Exercises are developed and planned through a committee of planners from all agencies involved and complies with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Cobb County Emergency Management Agency's directives and procedures.
Kennesaw State has performed four (4) exercises since 2008 including (1) Golden Owl I, an exercise simulating a KSU Police response and building evacuation (2) Golden Owl II, a KSU Police response to a bomb threat and simulated bomb discovery with Cobb County Bomb Squad's response (3) Acid Rain I, a hazardous material simulated spill in the facilities area and (4) Active Shooter I, a KSU police response to a simulated active shooter scenario with individual players, observers and shooter (no weapons were used by anyone other than the PD who used 'red tipped' simulated weapons) and crisis coordinators in their emergency mode.
After each exercise, a 'hotwash' is performed with all the players, observers and response units to determine what worked and what did not. As with all exercises, the purpose is not to ensure compliance with the procedures, but to determine if the procedures actually worked in that scenario and revise accordingly.