Responding to a major incident should never be left to chance. After nearly a year planning, the Cobalt Magnet exercise was conducted in Brevard County, Florida, at the end of February, with the EMSI Incident Management Team (IMT) there to assist. Cobalt Magnet 2019 (CM19) was a Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) exercise that focused on a notional “launch anomaly” at Kennedy Space Center with off-site radiological or nuclear consequences. In preparation NASA’s MARS 2020 launch, this particular exercise focused on the launch of a space vehicle that employs a multi-mission radioisotope thermoelectric generator. It should be noted that the scenario is uncommon, as engineering and administrative controls employed by NASA make it highly unlikely to occur. In the event that such a scenario was to occur, the impact would be primarily agricultural and economic.
While EMSI has provided incident management training and exercise planning and coaching support since 2007, this was the first full-scale exercise that involved deployment of EMSI IMT members as part of a DOE/NNSA response. EMSI deployed a “short” IMT consisting of an Operations Section Chief, a Planning Section Chief, a Resources Unit Leader, a Situation Unit Leader, and an Incident Command Advisor to integrate with other elements of the DOE/NNSA response. The EMSI IMT facilitated the establishment of a Unified Command, managed the operational planning process and IAP development, maintained resources and situational awareness, and helped to better organize the technically complex and challenging response.
Beyond functioning as the DOE/NNSA IMT, other EMSI team members served on the exercise planning team with EMSI Emergency Management Specialist and Senior Scientist, Dr. Wendy Renno, leading the months’ long interagency planning efforts on behalf of DOE/NNSA. The CM19 Exercise Planning Team consisted of DOE/NNSA, Brevard County Emergency Management, Osceola County Emergency Management, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Florida Department of Health (FL DOH), the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FL DEM), Kennedy Space Center Radiological Control Center (KSC RADCC), the Kennedy Space Center Emergency Management, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Advisory Team for the Environment, Food, and Health. The EMSI team was directly involved in all aspects of the CM19 exercise.
In preparation for the exercise, EMSI conducted a specialized radiological incident management training course in Florida for state and local response personnel a month prior to this exercise. This course focused on the complexities of nuclear/radiological incident management above and beyond traditional all-hazards response.
The purpose of the DOE/NNSA Cobalt Magnet exercise series is to validate the concept of operations for interagency technical and operational support to State, tribal, territorial, and local response to a nuclear or radiological incident. It also allows the participating elements to collectively and collaboratively identify any capability gaps and opportunities for improvement response capabilities. It additionally provides an opportunity to establish relationships between response partners prior to an event to help ensure that a common understanding of capabilities exists.
EMSI has provided emergency management contract support to DOE since 2007 and currently works with several DOE programs. EMSI’s vast experience in complex incident management and hazardous materials response has helped inform some of the advanced incident management approaches to Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) incident management. EMSI personnel have been involved in the management of several complex hazardous materials incidents, included the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident in 2011.
As one of the most experienced and capable IMTs in the world, the EMSI IMT is a highly qualified and experienced Type 1 IMT available to support government and private sector entities on a worldwide basis. With highly skilled incident management professionals, team members are drawn from a diverse range of disciplines and have an average of over twenty years of Type 1 all-hazards incident management experience.
EMSI is a service-disabled veteran owned (SDVOSB), minority business enterprise that supports a broad range of clients. To learn more about how EMSI and how we can help your organizations response preparedness, please visit www.emsics.com.