Jamestown 2007 commemorated the 400th anniversary of the first permanent English settlement in North America. The president of the United States and the Queen of England were among the 63,000 visitors during the three-day celebration. James City County was responsible for public safety and for ensuring security for the president and royal family—a huge undertaking. What the municipal government needed most was a planning process and an operational structure.
Fortunately DHS mandated the use of the Incident Command System (ICS). Although ICS was developed to respond to incidents, it is now the preferred system to provide the unity of command for non-emergency management settings.
The Official Language
Because of its reputation for ICS “literacy,” USCG Sector Hampton Roads was designated as the senior federal official and assigned key roles in all sections of the unified command. In choosing which provisions might best suit its needs, sector planning staff used the exercise format to effectively prepare and respond during Jamestown 400.
The plans incorporated provisions for awareness, prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery. The staff also arranged for members of the Coast Guard Training Center Yorktown Contingency Planning School and subject matter experts from previous national events to conduct onsite assessments and critiques during the three-day weekend.
During the event, the majority of the Coast Guard’s resource hours were dedicated to the maritime operations branch, which focused on the James River. The mission was to prevent and deter waterborne terrorist attacks, mitigate their effects on the public, minimize impact on maritime commerce, and establish maritime emergency response plans in event of actual attack.
One of the primary ways to the event grounds was via the Jamestown-Scotland ferry, which transported over 6,000 vehicles across the James River during the event. Performing vehicle security inspections, coordinating the historic vessel movements, and patrolling the fireworks area presented a significant resource drain to the USCG operations section, maritime operations branch, and on-the-water patrol commander.
Working Together Equals Success
More than 40 federal and commonwealth agencies and local participants comprised the unified command, including:
- Transportation Safety Administration: DHS-designated federal coordinating officer;
- Federal Bureau of Investigation: shared law enforcement databases;
- Virginia Army National Guard: weapons of mass destruction technical expertise;
- Virginia Dept. of Environmental Management: hazmat response;
- James City County: provided county employees for the unified command, preplanning activities, fire, police, pre-event planning;
- Coast Guard: senior federal official.
Additionally, when the USCG command discovered a shortfall of experienced and knowledgeable ICS staff for key positions, Coast Guard members became the “pinch hitters and relief pitchers” due to their knowledge, training, and experience.
For more information:
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