"Green Scorpion" Incident Tests Crisis Software

by francine Hardaway on April 14, 2008

I’m watching a crisis planning exercise called “Green Scorpion” happening in real time at the ESS EXPO 2008. In this exercise, people in the field are simulating an attack on a chemical plant, with a security guard and two employees taken hostage. A grenade has exploded, with fire and nasty smoke. Through a Command Center, corporate security officers of the fictitious company will manage this crisis.

In the room where the EXPO is taking place, four monitors show what is already being done. Police have been summoned, a press briefing room has been established, and a command and control center tells everyone what to do. Six or 8 employees are sitting at computers making decisions according to the company’s crisis plan. Another person is in San Diego, and he is giving instructions to a small plane flying over the site. The video camera is on the wing of the plane.

A patrol car is requesting the location of “Green Scorpion.” Now it is on the scene. The attackers have engaged in gunfire with the police.

Although the scene of this attack is miles away, it is controlled remotely by the console in the Conference Resort. The command center can see the site.Console

A second bomb goes off. It hits the police vehicle. An ambulance is deployed. A second SWAT team is on standby. From the site of the catastrophe, there is UStream video zooming in on the location, taken from the plane flying overhead. Google Data is overlaid on the video and GPS.

Every activity is monitored by this ESS Crisis solution, uses the most up-to-date web technologies, coupled with really cool software, to help the team in the office manage the crisis in the facility.

By now the press is asking for details, and the PIO’s console is indicating a yellow alert, reminding the PIO to issue a press release or have a press briefing. The PIO briefing would not take place in the Command Center, but in another room down the hall. She will store her press release, so the after-action report would indicate she had taken that action.

Now a gas line explodes, and an employee (Robert Johnson, the CEO) is deployed to take care of that. What we’re seeing is how one emergency can trigger another, and that each one calls for a different, and equally urgent, response.

The attackers are now broadcasting “the green breath of the Scorpion will envelop the area if any attempt is made to stop us.” Robert and Chuck Mancini are going to take down the terrorists. Meanwhile, Logistics has notified the utilities to shut down the gasline in the operational area.

This is slick, although the simulated exercise is about twenty minutes ahead of the live exercise in the field. And sometimes the feeds go down and come up again. And the video camera sometimes points directly at the ground, showing nothing but cracks in the concrete. It’s not funny. It could happen to any one of ESS’s clients every day, which is why they are here learnng best practices in emergency response.

There are many pieces to this kind of exercise. Some of them involve people, some technology, and some tactics. The point of it is to show us how important it is to practice, or as the emergency reponders call it, “exercise.”

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