As we arrive closer to the end of winter, Arizonans are ready to say goodbye to cold winds and welcome cool springtime weather. Along with springtime, spring training baseball is also right around the corner. Sports complexes and baseball fields throughout the state are gearing up to welcome fans who want to take advantage of the nice weather and watch a game of baseball. Emergency managers, firefighters, police officers, and public information officers are also thinking of ways they can get in on the game and load their bases. Recently, I participated in a tabletop exercise at Salt River Fields that brought various departments and resources together to strategically plan ways to work together when responding to an emergency at a busy sports complex.
Representatives from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Office of Emergency Management and Office of Community Relations, Salt River Fire Department, Salt River Police Department, Salt River Fields Security staff and Operations staff, and Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs huddled around conference room tables to discuss scenarios and strategies for emergency response. Emergency management offices from Gila River Indian Community, Scottsdale, Mesa, and Maricopa County also participated in this exercise to provide tribal, city and county perspectives. Even a representative from the Colorado Rockies was present to share how this national baseball team might play a role in an emergency.
Listening to exercise participants share their insight, experience, and knowledge allowed me to see how these different entities come together to keep the general public safe. Whether it is sharing experience from past incidents or brainstorming new ways to mitigate a disaster, these managers and responders showed good sportsmanship in their ability to work as a team and leverage each other’s expertise.
During the tabletop exercise, the agencies contemplated who their stakeholders are, what health risks might be present in the emergency, and how to maintain public safety among large crowds of people. The public information officers discussed how to work with different agencies on messaging, what kind of information is vital for the public to know during an emergency, and how the media plays a role in helping agencies relay important messages to viewers/listeners/readers. Keen attention to detail, organized operational coordinating, and strong communication skills were strengths that allowed this exercise to be successful.
Springtime is the time of year to spend outside, enjoy the cool weather, and watch a game of spring training baseball. This is also the time of year when emergency managers and responders plan for situations where the public’s safety might be at risk. By working together with different organizations and sharing ideas about ways to improve emergency plans and procedures, tribal, state, county, and city agencies can hit a home run when it comes to managing emergencies.