RD202 - 2018 Virginia Emergency Support Team Exercise (VESTEX) Report
On May 7, 2018, VDEM took part in a FEMA sponsored National Level Exercise (NLE) for a fictional hurricane striking the mid-Atlantic. The Virginia Emergency Support Team Exercise (VESTEX) 2018 was a functional exercise designed to examine the ability of all levels of government, private industry, nongovernmental organizations, communities, and individuals to protect against, respond to, recover from, and implement continuity plans related to a major hurricane with localized catastrophic impacts. VESTEX exercised the Commonwealth of Virginia Emergency Operations Plan (COVEOP), in compliance with Section 44-146 17:2 of the Code of Virginia, Military and Emergency Laws, Annual Statewide Drill, and local emergency operations plans.
Participants included the Virginia Emergency Support Team (VEST), which consists of over 40 state agencies, VDEM Regions 1, 2, 5 and 7 staff, and 38 localities.
The following exercise-specific objectives were evaluated and successfully completed:
• Demonstrate the ability of the VEST Command and General Staff to establish incident management and Incident Action Planning processes in response to a natural disaster that impacts the Commonwealth in accordance with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and existing plans, policies, and procedures.
• Demonstrate the ability of the VEST Operations Section to coordinate the management of Emergency Support Function (ESF) operations in response to a natural disaster impacting the Commonwealth in accordance with existing plans, policies and procedures.
• Evaluate the ability of the VEST Logistics Section to provide facilities, services and support in response to a natural disaster that impacts the Commonwealth in accordance with established plans, policies and procedures.
• Demonstrate the ability of the Joint Information Center (JIC) to deliver coordinated, prompt and actionable incident information in response to a natural disaster that impacts the Commonwealth in accordance with existing plans, policies and procedures.
While this exercise highlighted many successes, there were some needing improvement. Information Technology (IT) systems were unreliable. For example, in the Virginia Emergency Operations Center (VEOC), some of the screens that had been displaying information would time out and become blank. There was also latency with WebEOC, WiFi problems, and technology infrastructure weakness.