EarthEx 19: An emergency management exercise that the Whole Community can and should participate

On Wednesday, August 21, 2019 the third in a series of annual online emergency management exercises will be open for participation. The exercise is sponsored and conducted by the Electrical Infrastructure Security (EIS) Council and is titled “The Emergency All-sectors Response to a Transnational Hazard Exercise” or EARTH EX for short.

The first exercise, EarthEx17, occurred in August 2017.  I first learned about and participated in EarthEx18 last summer.  I was very impressed with the online operating system, called the Battle Rhythm Manager (BRM); the scenario inputs; and the format of the exercise. The questions were well thought out and general flow of the program was very well done. Last year’s exercise had almost 10,000 participants. The demand was so high, the system was left open for 45 days so that new participants could continue to play for several weeks.

The EarthEx series of exercise are based around the impacts of a Blacksky event; a disaster that results in the major loss of electrical power to regions and nations. EarthEx18 involved a cyber-attack on the national grid of several nations. EarthEx19 will involve catastrophic natural disasters.

EarthEx is a cross-sector exercise that has created the ability to focus on multiple community lifelines using 38 lanes of participation. These participation lanes focus the questions and decision making on each lane.  Registrants will register for each lane they would like to participate.  Some of these lanes include:

  • Individual and Families
  • Education
  • Information Management
  • Communications
  • Radio Communications
  • Community Leaders
  • Food Distribution
  • Mutual Aid
  • Long Term Care
  • Federal & State Government
  • Federal Emergency Mgmt
  • State & Local EMA               
  • Volunteer Organizations
  • Emergency Support Functions
  • National Guard
  • Law Enforcement
  • Fire and Rescue
  • Medical
  • Water and Waste Water
  • Utilities Cyber
  • Electric
  • Natural Gas
  • Oil
  • Insurance
  • Transportation
  • Supply Chain
  • Financial

and multiple lanes of Private Sector Partners

I plan on registering for several participation lanes in order to facilitate the exercise for a number of planning groups that I meet with.  I meet periodically with local and county emergency managers, fuel suppliers, food pantries, amateur radio operators, school officials and volunteer groups.  There are specific lanes of play for each one of these groups.  I also plan on inviting local elected officials, nursing homes, water districts and law enforcement officials to participate on various days in lanes that cover their areas of focus. 

In each of the exercise participation lanes, players will be able to build situational awareness, practice resource management, and decision making. From this series of exercises, I hope to develop one “whole community” after action report.  The best part is the EIS Council develops the exercise plan, facilitation materials, and venue multimedia presentation.

If you are interested in the EarthEx19 exercise, you may go to the EIS Council website which has been set up for exercise registration at https://www.eiscouncil.org/EarthEx.aspx.

EarthEx19 will be an excellent opportunity to involve the Whole Community and our various community lifelines in preparing for a long term wide-scale power outage.  It has the prospect of opening many new eyes to the potential impacts of a catastrophic disaster and build greater emergency management partner networks.

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