Learning Through Exercise - Major Exercise Tests Federal and State Response

FEMA, along with other federal agencies, took part in a multi-state emergency preparedness exercise during the week of May 18. Simulating a catastrophic earthquake striking the central United States in the New Madrid seismic zone, FEMA coordinated federal efforts in conjunction with the CDC, the various state National Guards, the Food and Drug Administration, and the American Red Cross in the National Level Exercise (NLE) 2011. The exercise took place in the states of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Arkansas.

The primary purpose of most disaster drills is to test real-world disaster and recovery efforts, essentially testing the nation’s ability to respond to worst-case scenarios. In the case of the NLE 2011, the goal was to test the ability of the various federal and state agencies to respond to a major earthquake. And while some involved had to scale back their efforts in order to deal with real-life disasters, including flooding and tornado aid, thousands of individuals at more than 50 sites participated by following multiple emergency response plans.

With involvement on all levels during the exercise, including on the federal, state and local level, the U.S. disaster response included 140 observers from international and interagency groups, as well as the private sector, congressional, and various emergency management stakeholders. Some of the international groups involved include those from Japan, Taiwan, Israel, Canada and Mexico, among others. They are joined by representatives from key partners in Congress, mainly the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, the House Committee on Homeland Security, and the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

According to FEMA, it will update discoveries made during the NLE drill on its blog during the next week.

For more information about the NLE drill, visit: http://blog.fema.gov/2011/05/nle-recap-participating-in-exercise.html