WASHINGTON, Oct. 17 Representatives from more than 50Greater Washington nonprofit organizations meet today with disasterpreparedness specialists from Deloitte & Touche USA LLP (Deloitte), theNonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington (Roundtable), the American RedCross of the National Capital Area and The Center for Disability Special Needsand Preparedness, as they participate in a tabletop - or discussion-focused -disaster exercise.
The exercise uses a hypothetical but realistic pandemic flu outbreak inGreater Washington as the catalyst to test and refine Continuity of Operations(COOP) plans drafted by many of these same nonprofit executives during a June8, 2007 workshop. That workshop kicked off a two-year initiative sponsored byDeloitte and hosted by the Roundtable. Today's session represents the firstopportunity for participants to test their COOP plans.
Throughout the day, the group will analyze any gaps or overlaps betweenCOOP plans, address communications challenges, and refine critical cooperationand teamwork efforts between organizations. The long-term goal is to ensureseamless execution in the event of an actual disaster.
The workshop was opened with an address by former Health and HumanServices Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. "So much attention has been paid inrecent years to preventing a pandemic flu outbreak, and we're encouraged bythat," said Thompson, the independent chairman of the Deloitte Center forHealth Solutions. "But we still have a long way to go. That holds true fornonprofit organizations and for-profit corporations alike. Exercises likethese are critical to preparing us on the ground, as well as in the executivesuite."
In addition to Secretary Thompson, several high profile disasterpreparedness experts and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials areobserving the drill or are serving as presenters, including Chris Geldart,director of DHS's Office of National Capital Region Coordination; DarrellDarnell, director of the Washington, DC Homeland Security and EmergencyManagement Agency; Richard Helfrich, Deputy Director, Montgomery CountyDepartment of Health & Human Services; Reggie Parks, Director, Prince GeorgesCounty Office of Emergency Management; Lucy Caldwell, Public InformationOfficer, Virginia Department of Health, NoVa Region; and Sherry Adams,Assistant Senior Deputy Director, Health Emergency Preparedness and ResponseAdministration, Washington, D.C. Department of Health.
"Today's exercise is the second in a series of events being conducted aspart of Deloitte's two-year 'roadmap to preparedness' program for the regionalnonprofit community," said Gary H. Tabach, Deloitte's office managing partnerfor Greater Washington. "Together with our partners, we are developing astrategic plan to increase the level of preparedness in the critical nonprofitcommunity and to improve coordination and communication - both within thenonprofit community and between nonprofits and regional governments andbusiness in our region."
Today's drill reflects a maturing readiness movement across the countryand is being held concurrently with the federal government's "TOPOFF 4"biannual test of its preparedness strategies. In today's tabletop exercise,Deloitte and Roundtable facilitators will walk participants through achronological set of events starting with the discovery of a pandemic fluoutbreak in South America. As the exercise progresses, the simulated pandemicenters the United States and our region, ultimately infecting a significantpercentage of the local population and overwhelming resources of unpreparedorganizations. Participants must implement readiness plans to sustain theiroperations, while taking steps to slow the spread of the outbreak. Thesimulation evolves toward a realistic but near-worst case scenario in order topush organizational capabilities to their limits and to accurately testinter