Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Sticky Situation—improving area preparedness through government-initiated unannounced exercises

Excerpt from U.S. Coast Guard “Proceedings of the Marine Safety & Security Council” magazine by LT Kelly Dietrich, U.S. Coast Guard Office of Incident Management and Preparedness, Oil and Hazardous Substance Division and LT Jason Marineau, U.S. Coast Guard Office of Incident Management and Preparedness.

A complete preparedness program must include exercises that catch responders off-guard. As such, unannounced exercises are a key component of our preparedness program and are called government-initiated unannounced exercises, or “GIUEs,” typically pronounced “gooeys.”

These unannounced drills measure initial response actions compared to written actions in vessel and facility response plans. The intent is to identify gaps in the response plans and the ability of the vessel/facility owner to implement a plan before a real incident occurs.

As we re-energize the GIUE program within the Coast Guard’s sector organization, federal on-scene coordinators (FOSCs) need to ensure they coordinate expertise and daily responsibilities housed in both sector prevention and response divisions during the planning and execution of the GIUE through our marine environmental response technical specialists.

Application in Practice
Once the facility/vessel and USCG GIUE team has been identified, the hard work begins. The team should:

  • review the facility or vessel history,

  • read through the response plan,

  • review the geographic response guidance detailed in the area contingency plan,

  • draft an appropriate scenario using the main concepts and discharge amounts listed in the facility or vessel response plan,

  • select a day and time to conduct the GIUE.

GIUE team members should understand that they are fulfilling two or three different roles:

  • Steward of regulations—reviews plans to ensure compliance with vessel and facility regulations.

  • Observer—verifies and observes the execution of the response protocols compared to what is listed in the vessel or facility response plan.

  • Facilitator—for the vessel or facility person in charge or tankerman on the receiving end of the GIUE, this is a highly stressful situation.

The verification team should approach this situation with full understanding and clear intentions while ensuring the regulations are met.

This effort should not stop at the conclusion of the exercise. Follow-up efforts should be made to identify areas for improvement in training, equipment, planning, and highlighting superior performance.

For more information:
Full article is available at http://www.uscg.mil/proceedings/fall2009.

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