EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — May 24, 2006

Emergency Management Training, Analysis & Simulation Center

Robert R. Harper, Jr.
Program Manager, Northrop Grumman

Charles J. Venable
Senior Program Manager, SAIC

Amy Sebring
EIIP Moderator

The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. A raw, unedited transcript is available from our archives. See our home page at http://www.emforum.org

[Welcome / Introduction]

Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone. On behalf of Avagene and myself, welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum! Our topic today is "EMTASC: Emergency Management Training, Analysis & Simulation Center." Now it is my pleasure to introduce today's speakers. Both of our guests have served as Chair of the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center’s (VMASC) Advisory Board, where the EMTASC facility is currently housed.

Robert J. Harper, Jr. is employed by Northrop Grumman and serves as the Program Manager for the contractor team supporting the Joint Warfighting Center, developing Joint military exercises using computer simulations to train very senior military and government leaders.

Charles J. Venable is a Senior Program Manager for SAIC, and brings extensive experience in the areas of exercise services, modeling and simulation operations, and experimentation. For more detailed biographical information, please see the Background Page for today's session.

Welcome to you both, and thank you for joining us today. I turn the floor over to Bob to start us off please.


Bob Harper: The Emergency Management Training, Analysis & Simulation Center (EMTASC) was created to provide training support and operational assistance for the command and management level decision makers in the area of emergency management.

To enhance these efforts, the use of modeling and simulations with emergency management application are used whenever possible. Thus, the mission of the EMTASC is to mitigate loss of life and property due to manmade and natural disasters by preparing emergency command and management personnel and organizations.

The Center employs world-class expertise and state-of-the-art modeling and simulations tools to conduct training, exercises, analysis, and operational support for disaster management and homeland security situations.

EMTASC is a consortium of public and private entities that have come together to create this unique organization. Its founding members and Board of Directors is composed of industry and academic leaders in the emergency management modeling and simulation community. Amy, slide 1 please.

[Slide 1]

The Board of Advisors represents a diverse cross-section of public and private entities. Amy, slide 2 please.

[Slide 2]

The EMTASC is conveniently located in the city of Suffolk, VA. This part of the Virginia is known as Hampton Roads, which is fast becoming the nexus of modeling and simulation in the United States.

What makes the EMTASC unique in the area of emergency management training is not only its focus on command and management personnel as opposed to first responders, but its use of models and simulations as part of the training process. In the area of training and exercises, models and simulations are a valuable enabler to offer command and management personnel realistic training and exercises at minimal costs.

In lieu of numerous participants at all levels of the process, the models and simulations replicate those entities as needed. Training is tailored to specific audience objectives and environment. The models and simulations offer extensive details, thus minimizing the "hand wave" solutions, and offer on-demand capability, providing for flexible and responsive injects to stimulate the participants.

In the area of analysis, models and simulations help operational command decision makers explore strategies and interventions. They also capture information for after action reviews that can be translated into lessons learned for real-world decisions.

Finally, models and simulations are a valuable enabler for decision support. They offer a real-time operational tool to test outcomes prior to actual decision. They enable analysis of existing or proposed operational plans, and they provide insight into the range of possible outcomes.

So, where are we now in the process to develop the EMTASC? Just this past month we were registered and licensed as a "Not for Profit" 501(3)(c) corporation. This will enable the EMTASC to do work that derives from grants. Our next step is to also form a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) that will enable us to work in the "For Profit" sector, and compete for business on our own, or team with other corporations to bid for and receive contracts.

At this point I will turn the program over to Charlie to talk more specifically about our modeling and simulation capabilities.

Charlie Venable: Thanks Bob. What sets the EMTASC apart and makes it unique is that in addition to the standard exercise design assistance discussed by Bob, we can provide unique expertise to identify modeling opportunities during the development of training objectives and scenario design.

Almost anything that can be quantified can be modeled. Natural and manmade disasters, such as explosive damage, gas and smoke dispersion, wind and water damage, and other environmental effects are examples of things we can model. Other things include population density, crowd behavior and casualty specific health state. In the area of casualties, models offer realistic reports such as numbers and types of casualties, and, extent of injury/illness.

We model traffic and provide for the dynamic responses to law enforcement intervention, the opening and closing of roadways, and the catastrophic event progression. Hospital capabilities are especially adaptable to modeling: their location, availability and suitability, the capacity, staffing, patient status, and surge capacity. In fact, we have a model now that is directly applicable to the Pandemic threat and can be used by emergency planners who wish to examine their Pandemic Influenza plans.

As the training audience makes iterative decisions, our models can be updated to provide for those modification of resource allocations. Overall, the benefits to modeling are substantial. They accurately represent actions of the players not physically present (thus saves money) and they provide for detailed and complex scenarios with minimum personnel requirements. Models allow for "what if" drills, they are scalable in that they can be used for table tops events all the way up to full scale exercises, and they provide for a plan and mission rehearsal capability.

We have a number of simulations available to stimulate decision making, such as the Civilian Emergency Responder Readiness Training System (CERRTS), the Emergency Preparedness Federation (EMPREDFED) and the Automated Exercise and Assessment Simulation (AEAS).

Next you will see a screen shot of AEAS. AEAS exercises allow participants to react to various scenarios by sending each other messages through individual computer workstations connected to a local area network. AEAS captures and records participants’ actions. Amy, Slide 3 please.

[Slide 3]

Simulated outcomes based on these actions provide participants with feedback on incident status, allowing them to judge the adequacy of their response. At the conclusion of the exercise, AEAS provides a detailed, printable, after-action review (AAR) report. However, we are not tied to specific models. We are focused on customer requirements and, with over 200 models with homeland security applications, we know how to obtain the appropriate model to support the training/exercise event objectives.

We see a bright future for the EMTASC. Our vision is that the EMTASC will strengthen command and management skills and processes through customized training. It offers leaders the opportunity to design exercises focused on their specific needs using modeling and simulation tools.

It provides flexibility for leaders in terms of numbers of participants - the ability to target key personnel involved in the operational level of emergency response. And, it challenges participants with various scenarios not available during typical training.

That concludes our overview. Bob and I will be happy to answer your questions, and I will turn the floor back over to our Moderator

Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Bob and Charlie.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Barry Drogin: I've been to Hampton Roads, an excellent facility, but I was only aware of its transportation function. I am glad to hear that training has been extended to health and, as a slide made apparent, security.

Charlie Venable: We are co-located with VMASC, and the modeling & simulation opportunities are enabled by their broad modeling & simulation interests.

Amy Sebring: Charlie, one of the problems with table top type exercises, and even large exercises such as the TOPOFF series, has been that the player decisions have no impact on the subsequent unfolding of the scenario. How do you plan to incorporate this flexibility?

Charlie Venable: With the simulations we will employ the scenario is dynamic and the decision/actions of the players affect the outcome.

Bob Harper: Simulations provide alternative outcomes based on decisions.

Avagene Moore: Bob, what is required to use your facility for training? What type of registration or inquiry process is involved?

Bob Harper: There is flexibility with training audiences--training may be conducted on site in Suffolk or the training may be conducted at other locations. Mainly, the process begins with identification of desired outcomes, training objectives, etc. Each situation is tailored to the needs of the training audience

Amy Sebring: Bob is there contact info you can put up for inquiries?

Bob Harper: Yes, contact numbers for the EMTASC are 757-638-7009, or by email to me at [email protected]

Barry Drogin: I'm also aware of Hampton Roads as a research facility. Simulation can be important to such studies. Are academic results published on a web site?

Charlie Venable: VMASC, as part of Old Dominion University, publishes their work.

[See http://www.vmasc.odu.edu/rd/selectedresearch.]


Amy Sebring: Another problem with exercises has been that elected officials seldom participate, yet their leadership (or lack thereof) has significant impacts on the response. Charlie, can you simulate actions of elected leadership?

Charlie Venable: Amy, We can simulate the actions of anyone. We do that by forming a response cell that is manned by personnel with relevant experience to role play the individuals or organizations.

Ray Pena: Is there a cost for your service? How is it determined?

Bob Harper: As Charlie said, our response cells may act for the leaders who may not be able to participate, but, ideally, we would recommend that they be involved. As for cost of individual events, we determine that based upon numerous factors such as duration, location, scope, etc.

Judy Shuck: Once the base information (training objectives, etc.) have been received, approximately how long on average is it before your team is ready to conduct the simulation?

Bob Harper: About 3-4 months, depending on a number of factors.

Avagene Moore: Bob, I would think, as various groups use the EMTASC for training to various simulations and scenarios, that their outcomes are confidential / for their benefit, further training, etc. However, how are these outcomes used by your facility and for what purposes?

Bob Harper: Correct. There may indeed be sensitivity associated with some or all of the outcomes of a particular event, and we will discuss and determine how to handle during the planning process.

Amy Sebring: On second part of Ava's question, Charlie do you use your experience to refine your process?

Charlie Venable: We do. We are big fans of using lessons learned or after-action reporting to facilitate a continuous improvement process.

Barry Drogin: If outside agencies were to send personnel to train at your facility, would it be expected that they use the Virginia geography and concentrate on other aspects of the simulation? How valuable would the training be if other localities use other user interfaces? Are there still lessons to be learned that are not tied directly to the equipment and locations that another region is concerned with? Has Hampton Roads been used to train outside agency personnel yet?

Bob Harper: Ideally, training audiences will use information specific to their own area and needs. As part of the planning and preparation process, we will determine what information is needed (and available) to accomplish what is desired. Much depends on the training audience ability to provide access to the necessary data.

Charlie Venable: One clarifier, we are able to incorporate geo-specific data in our models. We have not had the opportunity yet to train outside agencies.

Joseph Sernell: Is HAZUS used in this application at all? Or any of the ESRI software?

Bob Harper: We can interface with HAZUS and ESRI software as required.

Amy Sebring: Bob, is there a marketing strategy for EMTASC? Do you have interest from the military for example? Large corporations? Other targets? DHS?

Bob Harper: Yes, to all of these. The EMTASC is a public-private partnership that is available nation-wide to support the requirements of community, regional, state, and national leaders in addressing the preparation for and responses to national emergencies.

Amy Sebring:
Thanks. Can you tell us just a bit about how the state of Virginia has been involved in this project?

Bob Harper: Yes, the Commonwealth is a full supporter. The former Governor, Mark Warner, officially opened the EMTASC last August and the current Governor, Tim Kaine, has likewise expressed his commitment to the endeavor.

Barry Drogin: A lot of EM training can be as much about learning the user interface as about learning the scenario. It would be useful if Hampton Roads developed a generic scenario-training course that outside agencies could use that didn't concentrate on the particular software developed for the HR facility. I wanted to know if you offered that yet.

Charlie Venable: Barry, that is not currently offered, although we have the expertise to generate such a course.

Avagene Moore: Bob, if a group wishes to train at the EMTASC, do you have housing facilities or do they make arrangements in the area?

Bob Harper: There is ample housing within the area, and we will assist as needed.

Joseph Sernell: Is there going to be, for lack of a better term, a simulation of a simulation that everyone could look at to learn more about the inputs and outputs that could be expected by the system? A detailed PDF or Power Point presentation perhaps?

Bob Harper: We have a capabilities briefing that we will be happy to mail or send to you.

Charlie Venable: One note of clarification -- the EMTASC is not just a model facility. Models/simulations are just tools employed to facilitate training. If we are anything we are a command and management training facility.

Bob Harper: The EMTASC is a facility and a capability to prepare people and leaders for decision making during times of stress. We can provide here or at audience locations.


Amy Sebring: Let's wrap it up for today. Thank you very much Bob and Charlie for an excellent job. We hope you enjoyed the experience. Please stand by a moment while we make a couple of quick announcements.

Again, the formatted transcript will be available later today. If you are not on our mailing list and would like to get notices of future sessions and availability of transcripts, just go to our home page to Subscribe.

We would like to welcome a new Partner today. Mythics Inc., http://www.1enterprise.net, makers of the software product, 1Enterprise Emergency Resource Manager (ERMA); POC Nick Intintolo / Director, 1Enterprise

If your organization is interested in becoming an EIIP Partner, please go to our home page and click on "Partnership for You"

Thanks to everyone for participating today. We stand adjourned but before you go, please help me show our appreciation to Bob and Charlie for a fine job.