DHS Drill Includes “Temporary Morgue”

Thursday, September 29, 2011
By Paul Martin

Greg Otto,
Sept 29, 2011

WASHINGTON – Hurricane Zoe, a Category 2 storm, damaged a large number of District homes, caused major roads to flood and left more than 87,000 D.C. residents without power.

That fabricated scenario was the setting for a full-scale exercise performed by D.C.’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency Wednesday, allowing a wide swath of District agencies to practice their response to a massive city-wide emergency.

On the grounds of RFK Stadium, members of the Metropolitan Police Department, D.C. Fire and EMS and the D.C. Department of Human Services were on hand to perform various drills in order to coordinate and execute emergency operations, gathering data to refine the city’s procedures in the event of a real emergency.
In the concourse of the stadium, the D.C. Department of Human Services was in charge of a “mega-shelter” that filled with volunteers mimicking the roles of displaced residents.

Representatives from DHS and the D.C. Department of Health were on hand to assist “residents” with food, communications and medical problems as they entered the facility.

In the parking lots surrounding RFK, other D.C. emergency agencies assembled and operated a temporary morgue, cleared overturned cars, gathered trash and operated a temporary pet shelter.

Millicent West, director of the D.C. HSEMA, says Wednesday’s exercise allows the city to examine flaws in its emergency operation and invest in ways to fix issues as they arise.
“If there are challenges in making sure that things aren’t working, we let people know where the redundancies are so that they can know immediately, if this is not working, this is my trigger to say ‘I need to do something else,’ ” West says.

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