Faced with the requirement to hold the annual Shipper Worst Case Discharge exercise in Alaska during the pandemic, NJR assisted its client in designing and hosting a 400-person exercise using a hybrid Virtual and Face-to Face exercise. Only local Alyeska-SERVS responders in Valdez, AK participated in-person at the Valdez Emergency Operations Center (Valdez EOC). Agency, contractor, industry partner, and all other company personnel participated remotely from their offices in multiple U.S. states, Canada, Australia, and Norway.
The exercise was three days in duration and was based on a 180,000-barrel spill in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Within days, this spill would have heavily oiled several shorelines and impacted sensitive resources, including wildlife and tribal communities.
A Virtual Incident Command Post (VICP) was created with sufficient capacity to support the Unified Command-based Incident Management Team (IMT) to allow every responder to log into the VICP and:
- Hold meetings
- Order and track resources
- View a common situation status display
- Collaborate on forms and plans
- Route and approve documents of every kind
Due to NJR’s coordinated VICP, our client was able to stand up their team and respond quickly and efficiently to make the proper notifications to control this spill. Even those responders who were co-located, among other locations (Valdez EOC; agency offices in Valdez and Anchorage, Alyeska offices in Valdez, Anchorage, and Fairbanks, company offices Houston, where the Salvage Team worked together; and many personnel who worked the simulated response from home).
Despite the challenges presented by playing in artificial time and across multiple time zones in a VICP, all participants unanimously deemed the event a success. Senior leadership proclaimed, “a global standard was established”, and the responders gave overwhelmingly positive feedback on the VICP and the processes developed to allow ICS to be used in a virtual environment.
The VICP will continue to evolve and is anticipated to continue even after the pandemic is defeated, as it has already proven to be a valuable tool in supporting a timely, efficient response. If you would like to learn more about what it takes to manage your exercises or incidents virtually, please reach out to our consultants at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our contact page.