COLLEGE STATION – TEEX and The Texas A&M University System Office of Safety have teamed up to prepare A&M System universities for emergencies. TEEX has developed and delivered tabletop exercises that present a potential threat or incident scenario. The exercises allow university administration and emergency personnel to work through their response plan to keep students and employees safe.
The goal of the exercise is to improve coordination, communication and response by university officials and local responders to a potential threat or incident on their campus, said Hank Lawson, Training Director with TEEX Disaster Preparedness and Response (DPR). The one-day tabletop exercise is conducted on-site with the crisis management team and local responders at each university.
“TEEX facilitates the tabletop exercise to provide the universities the opportunity to identify any gaps in their policies and procedures and their existing crisis management plans,” Lawson said.
After an initial exercise was conducted for Texas A&M University a couple of years ago, the A&M System tapped TEEX to conduct emergency response tabletop exercises for several universities. In 2011, exercises were held at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Texas A&M University-San Antonio, Tarleton State University and Texas A&M University-Texarkana. This year, exercises are planned for West Texas A&M University, Texas A&M – Galveston and the Texas A&M Health Science Center.
“Each tabletop exercise is designed around a specific crisis scenario selected by the university to assess its ability to respond to protect life, restore essential operations, establish accountability and continue critical services,” Lawson said. Incidents selected for the exercises included: an active shooter, a tornado, a bomb threat followed by an explosion and an airplane crash next to the university’s stadium. In each exercise, up to 50 participants have worked on incident coordination and communication between the campus response team and faculty, staff, students, responders, A&M System members and others, he said.
TEEX Public Safety & Security (PS&S) has also been assisting Texas A&M University in updating its crisis management plan. Both PS&S and DPR are currently assisting Easterwood Airport with updating its airport emergency plan, which is an annex to the university’s plan.
Lawson said TEEX has provided this type of assistance and exercises to federal agencies, state and local jurisdictions, public health and medical agencies, school districts and universities across the state and nation.