Edited Version of April 21, 1999 Transcript
EIIP Virtual Forum Special Feature

"The City of Lubbock, Texas
Y2K Exercise"

Ken Olson

Emergency Management Coordinator
City of Lubbock, TX

Avagene Moore EIIP Coordinator

The original unedited transcript of the April 21, 1999 online Virtual Classroom presentation is available on the EIIP Virtual Forum (http://www.emforum.org). The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. Typos were corrected, date/time/names attributed by the software to each were deleted but content of discussions, questions, and responses are as stated by each participant. Answers from the speakers to questions by the audience are grouped beneath the appropriate question to facilitate meaning.


Avagene Moore: Welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum!

Before we hear from our speaker, would like to remind you that any URLs used in the presentation are live links (in blue.) Click on them to see the pages references. For example, background for today's session is at <http://www.emforum.org/vforum/990421.htm>.

Suggest you also check out the following URL if you haven't previously done so. <http://y2k.ci.lubbock.tx.us/excersise.htm>.

The URL above will give you additional insight to the Y2K exercise conducted by the City of Lubbock last fall. Our speaker will give us more details and you will have an opportunity to ask questions after the interview.


And now to introduce our speaker --- Ken Olson is the Emergency Management Coordinator for the City of Lubbock and has held this position for the past five years. Prior to being appointed to this position, Ken served as Fleet Services Director for fifteen years. During the majority of this time he worked directly under the Director of Administrative Services, who was in charge of emergency operations for the City of Lubbock. Prior to joining the City of Lubbock, Ken was a teacher in the Lubbock Public Schools and taught at Alderson Jr. High School, Monterey High School, and Dunbar Struggs High School. His teaching fields were Industrial Arts and Distributive Education.

Ken is a graduate of Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma, where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree with a major in Industrial Arts Education and a minor in Business Education. He also attended Angelo State University where he earned his certification for teaching Vocational Education. Thank you for being here today, Ken.

Ken Olson: It is my pleasure.



Avagene Moore: My first question to you, Ken. What was the purpose of Lubbock's Y2K exercise?

Ken Olson: The purpose of our exercise was to determine our overall level of preparedness with emphasis on the Y2K issue. The exercise was a functional exercise, therefore, we did not break anything.


Avagene Moore: How long did it take to plan the exercise and who was involved in the design?

Ken Olson: We have an exercise design team that put it together and it took them about 3 months with a lot of late night work near the day of the exercise.


Avagene Moore: Who was involved in the actual simulation on September 30, 1998?

Ken Olson: All our first responders who normally respond to the emergency operations center were called in at approximately 4:30 PM as they would for any type of EOC activation. These individuals are those who have responsibility for citizen services.


Avagene Moore: What type of guidelines and pre-briefing was done for the exercise?

Ken Olson: There were some meetings early on with the exercise design team to discuss the overall perspective of the exercise. From that point on, the team put the exercise together. However, I might add that this team was a part of the group that went to FEMA's IEMC course and assisted with the exercise for the class.


Avagene Moore: Will you please share with us any major problems encountered in the exercise?

Ken Olson: The exercise lasted about 3 hours. Some of the major problems we encountered with the exercise were: power outages, phone outages, natural gas outage, radio system failures, 9-1-1 system failure, and a winter storm. These were the issues for the exercise. We did not have any major functional problems.


Avagene Moore: In your opinion, was the simulation realistic? Would you change anything if you could run the exercise again?

Ken Olson: Yes, it was very realistic. We had assistance with the local media and did actual news briefings. The play of the problem went very well and all directors responding were able to "get into" the issues they were dealing with. In addition, the thing that surfaced most was the team work demonstrated by the team. I really don't think I would change much. One major problem was having the ABC World News Tonight team in the EOC during the exercise. The City Manager and I was wearing live microphones and this was a little tough to get use to.


Avagene Moore: Did you have a critique afterwards? If so, how did the City of Lubbock do? Strengths and shortfalls?

Ken Olson: Yes we did. The exercise control team members discussed our responses to the incidents and each director had an opportunity to discuss where they thought they had problems. However, for the most part everyone was well pleased with our effort.


Avagene Moore: This was billed as the first exercise of this type in the country. What type of press coverage did you receive from the local and state media? You mentioned ABC World News; was there other national coverage?

Ken Olson: Yes, we had a lot of local coverage. All three local networks were there and were involved in the exercise. In addition, we had a lot of national coverage with both television and the printed media. A couple of articles appeared in the Wall Street Journal. They were all very positive.


Avagene Moore: I understand that the City of Lubbock was asked to appear before a Congressional Committee shortly after the exercise. Which committee? Please tell us about that experience.

Ken Olson: Our City Manager appeared before the Senate Subcommittee on Y2K as a panel member.

Avagene Moore: Again, the City of Lubbock Y2K URL is <http://y2k.ci.lubbock.tx.us>.

Ken Olson: Thanks, we are keeping our Website up to date and welcome everyone to take a look at it.

Avagene Moore: Thank you, Ken. I am sure our audience has questions for you. Before we open the floor for questions from our audience. Please submit a question mark (?) if you have a question or comment. Compose your question or remarks but wait until you are recognized before submitting to the screen. First question of Ken, please.

[Questions and Answers]


Jennifer Suter: How strong was the support from the Mayor's office?

Ken Olson: Very strong. She was a member of the exercise control team without our knowledge.


Amy Sebring: Somehow I got the idea you are planning a second exercise?

Ken Olson: No, we have decided to concentrate our efforts on ensuring our contingency plans are kept up to date and cover all anticipated issues.


Russell Coile: What did your EOC do for real with no power, no telephones and no 911?

Ken Olson: We have all our fire stations set up as message centers and will get the word out to the public via the media to go the nearest fire station of information. We have a 5 minute response time in our city.


Kellye Junchaya: I am curious how you got the media involved. Press releases? Phone calls?

Ken Olson: Our Public Information Office enjoys a very good relationship with the local media. In addition, one of the exercise control team member works for one of the local TV stations.


Jim Mesite: Did you have a techie actually enter the 2000 date into systems, or did you assume a problem and then discuss actions?

Ken Olson: No, we simulated everything. We did not break anything.


Amy Sebring: Have you been using FEMA's guide, and do you find it useful? <http://www.fema.gov/y2k/ccmp.htm>

Ken Olson: Somewhat. We are concentrating on local issues.


Avagene Moore: Are you hearing from other communities as to how they should prepare for Y2K?

Ken Olson: We have sent out approximately 475 copies of the video and exercise scenario.


Avagene Moore: Is that still available and how does one get the info?

Ken Olson: Yes, we get a lot of calls from other cities all over the United States and some from Canada.


Avagene Moore: How do they contact your office if they want the video?

Ken Olson: It is still available. Just send me a request on email

<[email protected]> and we will be happy to send you a copy. We are asking for a $20.00 reimbursement for our expenses.


Amy Sebring: You have a great Website there. What are you communicating to your citizens regarding family preparedness?

Ken Olson: We have established a speakers' group and are meeting with civic clubs, churches, neighborhood associations, schools and with Texas Tech University. We are also using the media as much as possible.


AK Miller: Can you give an example of something you have changed in your procedures since the exercise?

Ken Olson: Are you thinking technical or in our procedures?

Avagene Moore: Can you address both, Ken?

Ken Olson: On the technical side, we have changed some of our switching systems in our Electric and Water SCADA systems. We have placed a greater amount of emphasis on contingency planning at all levels within the organization and I think that's great from the overall emergency preparedness perspective. The City Manager is very much involved in our planning efforts. In fact, he has set up regular monthly status meetings.


Amy Sebring: What is the message that your speakers' group is giving?

Ken Olson: We are providing up to date information on our contingency plans and we are discussing what we are doing to ensure they will have power and water. We are also discussing with them family preparedness issues. For this we are using Red Cross and FEMA information.


Avagene Moore: As result of this and other planning and awareness, do you think the average citizen and family is paying more attention to their own responsibility for preparedness?

Ken Olson: We sure hope they are. However, as you know, there are still those who think we will have major problems. To this issue, we are asking that they think about and concentrate on local issues, as well as, outside (national issues) that might have an effect on them individually.


Amy Sebring: Do you plan to have your EOC up and running on New Years?

Ken Olson: Yes, I will be there all day and the team will come in around 10:30 PM. Another thought, I plan to have a computer set up at each station so the directors can get on the Internet and "watch the clock to Texas" by looking at what has happened earlier in the day.

Avagene Moore: Ken, I noticed part of your Y2K scenario was icing and severe winter weather on New Year's Eve. Let's hope that doesn't occur.


Amy Sebring: At this late date, any overall advice on how to get started with contingency planning? Who to involve, for example?

Ken Olson: Its never to late look at your planning efforts. I would strongly suggest that a planning team be developed to look at their local issues and the impact the outside agencies would have on their ability to deliver an acceptable level of services to their citizens.

Final Question:

Isabel McCurdy: How many people are on your exercise design team?

Ken Olson: Eight, and all of them are not with the city. The team is chaired by a Police Lieutenant who serves as my backup while I am out of town.

Avagene Moore: Thank you, Ken! And thank you, audience. The City of Lubbock is to be commended. Hope this was beneficial to you all.

Ken Olson: Hey guys, thank for not being to tough on a rookie. I did have fun.

Avagene Moore: Before we formally close our session today, would like to remind you of next week's sessions.

• Next Tuesday, April 27, 1:00 PM EDT: IAEM Pres Elect, Phyllis Mann will lead the Round Table. She will talk about the message she delivered re: Y2K to a congressional committee recently.

• Wednesday, April 28, 12:00 Noon EDT: The Tech Arena will host a discussion of NEMIS by FEMA. You will want to be present for the dialogue and demonstration.

Avagene Moore: If you can stay around a few minutes for congratulations, Ken. We will be here for a few minutes longer. Thanks to all. The Virtual Forum is adjourned for the day.