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VA holds weeklong exercise to execute emergency operations

VA’s VISN 16 has wrapped up its weeklong exercise that brought VA assets from across the South Central United States into one location. The exercise demonstrated a continuity of effort to execute the network’s emergency operations plan by activating the hurricane and alternate care annexes.

VISN 16 erected a medical training site during the exercise at the Bossier City Safety Training Complex. The weeklong exercise taught participants how to build tents, shelters and mobilize equipment to support Veterans and the community in the event of a natural disaster. 

This was an emergency management exercise which looked like a small city. The site consisted of several modular trailers and tents all with a different function that supported one purpose.

“We had reception, lab services, mental health, telehealth, social work and housing, pharmacy and a command post,” said Sonya Stokes-Sumrall, VISN 16 emergency manager. “We also had about 140 VA personnel here from eight medical facilities, the Disaster Advanced Coordination Team (DACT).”

All dedicated to supporting Veterans

The site had police, firefighters, canteen services, clinics and more, all dedicated to supporting Veterans and their families in a time of disaster. The DACT made the site a reality from boxed tents and mobile systems into a full-fledged Veteran support city.

The DACT trained Overton Brooks VA staff and others on how to erect the site. While the weeklong exercise trained on creating the site and teaching new skills and basic scenarios, some VA personnel were hungry for more.

“I thought the exercise went great,” said Dr. Christina Armstrong, clinical physiologist. “It’s crucial. We should all be having these exercises annually and I would like to see the next level, too. We should have full scenarios where we run Veterans all the way through the system and exercise all facets. I think a scenario should test all VA providers that come from across the nation to see if they have access to the system that they need to support the Veterans.”

Next training with NOAA

VA will continue having exercises and trainings during the 2023 hurricane season, covering site setup and next level advanced processing of Veterans. The next training will come from the director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, concerning the upcoming hurricane season.

“These exercises are good,” said Angelina Fuentes-Santiago, registered nurse. “They help us as clinicians to practice our skills. We need to go through our thought processes to determine how to help the Veteran as best as possible. It requires a lot of flexibility, listening and understanding.”

To read more stories on VA training events, visit VA News and Information.

This post, VA holds weeklong exercise to execute emergency operations, was originally published by the Veteran's Administration.

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2 days ago

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