About 130 emergency managers and social service officials in the National Capital Region completed an exercise this week designed to practice the long-term recovery procedures needed after a natural or man-made disaster.
The Case Management Cooperative (CMC) Exercise, held at the Council of Governments, was one of the first homeland security exercises in the nation to focus on the needs of people left homeless or without jobs after a major emergency incident.
The case management system used during the exercise was developed from lessons learned after the 2001 terrorist attacks and the hurricanes that hit the Gulf Coast and Florida in recent years. The system includes two new databases and new procedures to help relief officials to efficiently assist people displaced and in distress. The CMC is a set of memoranda of understanding between the Red Cross of the National Capital Area and several other social service organizations.
Participants in the exercise practiced using a secure database for client information called the Coordinated Assistance Network (CAN.) They also were introduced to a database of social service referral agencies. The scenario used for the exercise was one in which a Category Two hurricane hits the region. The participants had to decide how to serve clients at different time periods, including several days, one month, two months and six months after the incident.
“This was an experiment in getting people to work together across agencies,” said David Goldbloom-Helzner a project manager for ICF Consulting of Fairfax, VA, which designed the exercise. “Our goal is to incorporate the case management function as we look at other exercises that involve multiple functions.”
In addition to the Red Cross, the region’s participating organizations include Northern Virginia Family Services, Family and Child Services of DC, Inc., Jewish Social Service Agencies, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, and Reston InterFaith Network.