In 2008, the Blue Cascades V exercise focused specifically on how the region will restore and continue to provide food, fuel and water after a catastrophic earthquake. Both the public and private sector were included in this exercise because a majority of critical infrastructure owned and operated by the private sector. To ensure the region can continue to provide these services it is necessary for the public and private stakeholders to work together. The exercise examined supply chain recovery after the initial event moving out of the life safety issues and transitioning from the response to recovery phase. Read the Final Report here.
State and local governments and key stakeholder organizations convened on December 11, 2008 to hold a regional infrastructure interdependencies exercise focused on assuring critical supply chains in a major disaster. Blue Cascades V, the most recent exercise in the Blue Cascades exercise series, centered on providing food, fuel in a M. 6.7 Seattle Fault Earthquake scenario. The goal of the exercise was to explore impacts that would cause significant, extended disruptions in these critical supply chains; test disaster response plans and procedures; and identify gaps and mitigation and other measures that could expedite their restoration. Specific issue areas addressed in the exercise included interdependencies, coordination, roles and responsibilities, response, critical resource logistics and distribution, information sharing, economic/community recovery, public information, and training and education. The scenario, which was developed by an Exercise Planning Team with assistance from a regional stakeholder Scenario Advisory Group, also addressed infrastructure interdependencies that crossed state and national boundaries. The exercise used an interactive format of facilitated discussion among participants on scenario events using issues questions to focus discussion. An exercise evaluation team provided a hotwash presentation of lessons learned at the end of the exercise followed by participant discussion on exercise outcomes. The exercise concluded with a Next Steps session that outlined an After Action Report followed by development of an Action Strategy to address preparedness gaps and contribute to disaster supply chain planning and resilience.
The effects of a global influenza pandemic on critical infrastructures and essential service providers was the focus of the fourth Blue Cascades regional interdependencies tabletop exercise, held January 25, 2007 in Seattle, WA. Participants included more than 250 representatives from public, private sector, non-profit, academic, community, and other organizations. The overall goal of the exercise was to raise awareness of impacts on critical infrastructures and essential services from a pandemic and of stakeholder preparedness plans and resources; illuminate issues related to roles and missions; and gauge the effectiveness of regional communications and coordination. A major objective of Blue Cascades IV was to enable participants to identify shortfalls and potential solutions that could be incorporated into a regional pandemic preparedness Action Plan.
The scenario, procedures, and supporting materials for Blue Cascades IV were developed by a Scenario Design Team of more than 50 key stakeholders, with facilitation provided by the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region, a state-chartered consortium of five states (Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, and Montana) and three Canadian jurisdictions (British Columbia, Alberta, and The Yukon Territory). The scenario focused on Puget Sound, Washington State and cross-national border activities in response to a hypothetical avian influenza H5N1 outbreak that spreads to the United States from Asia.
During the day-long exercise, participants were provided “mini-briefings” from public health officials and experts on local, state, federal and private sector pandemic plans and policies. Among topics explored were public health impacts, implementation of disease control measures such as quarantines, isolation, travel restrictions, school closures, and bans on public gatherings; personnel shortages and related human factors; and impacts on transportation, water and waster water systems, supply chains (e.g., food and pharmaceutical supplies), hospitals, financial institutions, electric power, natural gas, and fuel. Also addressed were the roles of the National Guard, law enforcement, private security personnel, the Coast Guard, and regional military assets. A particular focus of the scenario was telecommuting and communications challenges and associated cyber security concerns related to employees working from their homes during a pandemic. The exercise scenario in addition looked at the ability of responders to deal with other disasters during a pandemic (in this case, a severe storm) and focused on restoration activities through a second wave of the influenza pandemic.
The Blue Cascades Interdependencies Exercise Series began in 2002 as way for regional stakeholders to proactively identify and strengthen gaps in their infrastructures. The Blue Cascades tabletop exercises are scenario-based discussion events developed by and for key stakeholder organizations that have roles and responsibilities or significant interests in assuring the security and resilience of the Puget Sound Region and the critical infrastructures and essential service organizations that underpin citizens’ health, safety, and economic well-being.
Developed and facilitated by the stakeholders themselves, the Blue Cascades exercises focus on all-hazards. The chief goal of these tabletop exercises is not to test plans and procedures but rather to raise awareness of infrastructure interdependencies and associated vulnerabilities, impacts, and preparedness gaps, identifying potential solutions to make needed improvements. The After Action Reports of the Blue Cascades Exercises are used to develop Action Plans of stakeholder recommended and prioritized activities. These activities may be short-term (one year or less), medium term (eighteen months to two years), or long-term (multi-year). All require cross-sector, multi-jurisdiction, and in most cases, multi-discipline collaboration and expertise to implement. Participants in the Blue Cascades exercises represent all levels of government, utilities, businesses, and other private sector organizations, non-profits, academic, and community institutions.
Blue Cascades Interdependencies Exercise Series: