From May 1-3, NACCHO staff attended the 2014 Operation Medical Base Exercise in Camarillo, CA, hosted by Ventura County Public Health. The 48-hour full-scale exercise brought together nearly 1,500 people throughout the state of California, including county and state agencies, military units, 15 MRC units, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers, eight local hospitals, and representatives from FEMA and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Operation Medical Base not only tested the skills these individuals would need in a response, but also provided a challenging environment that brought together multiple stakeholders.
On Day 1 of the exercise, MRC volunteers and California Air National Guard members had the opportunity to attend 47 different courses on a variety of preparedness topics. These ranged from an all-day CERT training to a Weapons of Mass Destruction concentration to emergency deliveries of newborns. “The diverse training opportunities we offered at Operation Medical Base equipped responders with the knowledge and confidence to handle any type of emergency,” said Dan Wall, Manager, Emergency Preparedness Office, Ventura County Public Health.
On Day 2, the full-scale exercise took place, including 700 local high school students who had acted as victims. The earthquake scenario tested how various entities would respond to such an event. Conversations during the hot wash revealed that participants enjoyed the opportunity to interact the people that they would respond with, but haven’t had the opportunity to train with yet. Additionally, the large amount and diversity of stakeholders did cause some communications issues, but allowed participants to clarify their response roles prior to an emergency.
On the final day, the Western Regional MRC Conference took place. CAPT Nadine Simmons, Region IX Regional Health Administrator, addressed the MRC volunteers in attendance, providing a regional and national perspective about the MRC and their importance in advancing the nation’s preparedness and public health capabilities. Following CAPT Simmons’ address, MRC volunteers participated in a team-building exercise.
Overall, the Operation Medical Base Exercise provided an excellent venue to interact with hundreds of MRC volunteers in one setting and see how MRC volunteers train with other partners. NACCHO appreciated the opportunity to speak directly with MRC volunteers and support the role of Ventura County Public Health in organizing the large-scale preparedness education opportunity.
See below for a slideshow of photos from the event: