Headed up by Teton County Emergency Management Coordinator Rich Ochs, the exercise included 28 agencies and 54 participants. The exercise, which was based on three wildfires and their impacts on the communities of Jackson, Teton Village, and areas of Grand Teton National Park, was designed to develop joint decision-making relationships between the various agencies. “Our community is fortunate to have such strong interagency relationships with our governmental and non-governmental partners,” Ochs noted. He continued, “But these relationships must constantly be worked on to maintain this level of coordination. Exercises help to strengthen these relationships.”
During the four-hour exercise, agency officials discussed basic strategies for managing these mock wildfires using the USFS Risk Management Decision Framework. Mock operations included: designation of unified commanders; the prioritization of critical assets at risk; development of methods for multiagency coordination; establishment of a joint information system; and identification of all stakeholders.
The emergency exercise also challenged participants to identify each agency’s role and responsibility following an incident-within-an-incident which included fatalities, as well as multiple destroyed and/or affected homes. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) participated in the exercise, which helped all agencies understand the role of NGOs in restoring basic health and social services following a disaster. Other instrumental players included utility providers, who helped identify critical infrastructure and the consequences of the destruction of such essential infrastructure.
Exercises such as these are regularly planned and executed prior to fire season to assess agencies and their readiness to deal with challenging multi-jurisdiction incidents and also build relationships among the various stakeholders. New to this 2015 exercise was an emphasis on community recovery following a significant incident. Upon completing “Operation Broken Sword,” Grand Teton National Park Deputy Superintendent Kevin Schneider commented that it was one of the best wildfire-related training exercises in which he had participated. The scope of participants and agencies involved provided an opportunity to build effective working relationships, learn what resources are available and establish an understanding of roles and responsibilities before an incident occurs.
About National Park Service:
More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 407 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit the NPS at www.nps.gov, on Facebook www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice, Twitter www.twitter.com/natlparkservice, and YouTube www.youtube.com/nationalparkservice.
About National Forest Service:
The US Forest Service is a multi-faceted agency that manages and protects 154 national forests and 20 grasslands in 44 states and Puerto Rico. The agency’s mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. We have an elite wildland firefighting team and the world’s largest forestry research organization. Find out more about the Forest Service at www.fs.usda.gov, on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/US-Forest-Service Twitter https://twitter.com/forestservice , and YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/user/usdaForestService
About US Fish & Wildlife Service:
The Service employs 9,000 people to manage the 150 million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System of more than 551 National Wildlife Refuges and thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. Under the Fisheries program we also operate 70 National Fish Hatcheries, 65 fishery resource offices and 86 ecological services field stations. Learn more about refuges at http://www.fws.gov/refuges/, on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/USFWSRefuges and Twitter @USFWSRefuges.
About Teton County, Wyoming:
Teton County government, under the leadership of five publicly elected Commissioners and seven publicly elected Officials, supports the well-being of its residents by providing responsive and efficient services; providing programs that contribute to public health, safety and welfare; and supporting the community’s goals as expressed in the Teton County Comprehensive Plan. Learn about Teton County athttp://www.tetonwyo.org.