Nationwide and local emergency preparedness drills take place next month

WASHINGTON – Helping people survive and recover from disasters can depend on authorities having well prepared responses developed through practice drills – like what’s happening locally and nationally next month.

Nationally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is leading an exercise in May based on the scenario that a major hurricane has made landfall near Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Locally: “It’s called Operation Atlantic Fury and it’s actually a two week exercise that the city is participating in with our regional partners,” Director of Emergency Management at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, Craig DeAtley said.

Speaking for the DC Health and Medical Coalition that’s organized through the city’s Department Of Health, DeAtley said the District’s health care community will participate in the drill on May 7.

“We will be focusing on the response to a major hurricane that comes through the National Capital Region and wreaks all sorts of havoc to include injuries and fatalities and compromised structures and various other types of problems,” DeAtley said.

The coalition includes everything from hospitals to first responders, dialysis centers to poison control and the medical examiner. Members meet and drill regularly to prepare unified responses to any and all emergencies – be they weather related, terrorism or a big transportation accident.

“And then we focus on producing documents, guidance documents, largely after-action reports – all in an effort to enhance the preparedness and improve the performance,” DeAtley said.

The coalition hosted a “Messaging During A Crisis” conference last Thursday, in which WTOP participated, to explore how public information officers in health care can best work with the media to share information during events such as mass shootings.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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