ACT Justice and Community Safety Directorate
Canberra was selected as one of a handful of cities to host matches for two major sporting events, the Asian Football Cup and the Cricket World Cup, in 2015. To prepare for this intense period of international focus, ACT Justice and Community Safety (JACS) Directorate recognised the need to undergo an intensive period of preparation in the delivery of a coordinated territory-wide emergency response, to the type of security challenges the ACT might face over the period. ACT emergency services and government directorates faced several challenges; the agencies had not practised their response arrangements on a large scale for a number of years, new emergency plans and control arrangements had since come into effect, and the ACT was requesting a set of exercises to be developed and delivered in an extremely short period of time.
WHAT NOETIC DID
Over a four month period in 2014, Noetic successfully delivered a suite of ‘RED CARD’ exercises, testing various levels of the ACT’s emergency response capabilities. Noetic developed a realistic master scenario based on a potential terrorist threat, and then augmented this story line with extensive media inputs; incorporating live ‘breaking news’ feeds and social media chatter. Because of the requirement to test a diverse array of levels Noetic was required to design and deliver five diverse exercises. These consisted of:
- a desktop style discussion exercise aimed at bringing all the key stakeholders together to develop a shared understanding on how a multi jurisdiction emergency response would be handled;
- a ‘live’ field exercise where over 170 emergency response participants from ambulance, fire, police, hospitals and emergency coordination centres were put through their paces dealing with simulated victims.
- an ‘live’ meeting of the ACT’s Security and Emergency Management Senior Officials Group (SEMSOG), where the committee had to resolve the strategic decisions surrounding command and control authorities, communication and Territory response to a terrorist incident.
- A discussion exercises focussed on the short and longer term recovery considerations for the ACT following a major disaster
- A review and lessons learnt exercise where the key findings were reviewed and a comprehensive ACT wide action plan was developed and immediate remediation issues identified in time for the Asian Cup kick off.
The RED CARD exercise series effectively tested and prepared the ACT to safely conduct major international events in the Territory. ACT Emergency response agencies were able to implement a range of measures before the commencement of the Asian Cup. The exercises enabled response agencies to refine their unified command arrangements, clarify individual resources requirements, and resolve coordination challenges with Asian Cup organising committees. Furthermore the ACT was able to identify longer term planning issues that required action, particularly with respect to recovery planning. During the actual ACT Asian Cup matches, several incidents arose requiring response agency commitments. These were successfully coordinated and senior ACT officials attributed the assuredness of the Territory’s response to the comprehensive exercise preparation they had undergone.