FEMA In Your Community: Conducting Continuity Workshops and Tabletop Exercises in the Dakotas

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FEMA Region VIII’s Continuity Manager recently led continuity training workshops in Pierre, South Dakota and Bismarck North Dakota.  The South Dakota event was centered around a potential active threat, while the North Dakota event was focused on cyber threats.  The workshops provided the opportunity to learn about active threat incidents, including acts of terror, and to test response/contingency plans to determine the ability to continue organization mission essential functions.

Active Threat events could adversely affect the ability of government at all levels and the private sector to provide essential functions and services to our citizens. Cyber-terror threats can bring down entire computer systems and have catastrophic consequences for businesses and communities. Instructors for both courses used case studies from actual events to encourage participants to think about how they might have responded. Attendees also learned from each other’s experiences and found ways to improve their own continuity plans.

Continuity programs and operations are good business practices that ensure critical services will be available to the public under all conditions.  They are applicable to all levels of government. The private sector and other nongovernment organizations may also benefit from establishing Continuity programs. The Continuity Guidance Circular: Continuity Planning Guidance for the Whole Community is a valuable resource for more information and best practices in Continuity planning.

Those interested in learning more can take two FEMA independent study program:  IS-523: Resilient Accord – Exercising Continuity Plans for Cyber Incidents  assists agencies in preparing for unpredictable threats such as executing continuity operations during a cyber security event.  IS-525: Guardian Accord assists agencies in preparing for unpredictable threats such as earthquakes, accidents, sabotage and terrorism.

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