Posted By: Josie Harper, Amtrak, Principal Officer Rail Evacuation Planning for Amtrak System Operations
As a partner with FEMA on emergency preparedness efforts, Amtrak works hard year around to keep passengers safe and secure, and has been active in events like past National Preparedness Month outreach.
This week, Amtrak is one of hundreds of companies participating in the National Level Exercise 2011, to test how the entire team would respond in the first 72 hours after a catastrophic earthquake hitting many states along the New Madrid Seismic Zone. As we have seen in recent months, this scenario is based on very real threats.
Amtrak is participating as a member of the National Business Emergency Operations Center (NBEOC), as well as a general player. Through daily calls with the NBEOC, Amtrak joins other business emergency operations center representatives from companies and states, to hear the latest on the exercise situation and work together to resolve issues that arise- such as road closures, access issues, critical needs, and more. (For more on how a Business Emergency Operations Center works, see this past blog post.)
While we are still assessing lessons learned in this exercise, one thing we have seen is the incredible capability that various parts of the private sector can bring to bear in a disaster – either in a simulated environment or a real event. We’ve learned that none of us can do it alone, and we all have a role in resolving issues, meeting needs, and sharing critical information that helps decision makers in both the public and private sectors. We’re also seeing that the challenges and opportunities after a disaster are very complex, from the local to the national levels, and that it takes a coordinated effort to help individuals and communities recover quickly.
There are important lessons to be learned – but more importantly, it is good to know that we are all on the same team.
Editor's Note: Companies that missed out on this year's exercise can find information at http://www.ready.gov/nle2011, along with preparedness tips.