GURABO, PR – On June 15, 2021, the Puerto Rico Joint Headquarters (JFHQ-PR) conducted a training exercise from the Gurabo Readiness Center. Applied Training Solutions (ATS) provided support in exercise design and control, and the ATSsim platform was used for realism and visual effects, simulating tidal surges and inland flooding based on a category 5 hurricane.

The purpose of the exercise was to ensure the JFHQ-PR staff understands roles, responsibilities, and actions associated with the Joint Operational Catastrophic Incident Plan (JOCIP), the Puerto Rico National Guard’s 2020 All Hazard Response Plan, and the Puerto Rico National Guard TTPs and SOPs as it anticipates and responds to a category 5 hurricane approaching Puerto Rico. The three modules were designed to challenge each agency to consider their individual responses and procedures, as well as how to integrate them with other agencies.

The ATSsim platform was chosen as the appropriate supporting tool to the tabletop exercise. It complemented the modules by demonstrating a visual representation of the impact of the severe flooding from tidal surges and rain on the area of operations. JFHQ-PR personnel were able to determine where “safe” locations for C2 nodes and units could be positioned based on the simulated images.

The scenario, including the hurricane’s damage and track, was based on Hurricane Maria from 2017. Additional factors were the availability of the PR NG Soldiers and Airmen, the integration of EMAC and T-10 forces, and the integration of civilian supporting agencies.  The storm surge used was based on the maximum 6-9 feet above ground level, 155 mph winds, and loss of 99% of the island’s communications.

The exercise was critical to prime the JFHQ staff for Vigilant Guard.  They were able to exercise processes and drills prior to the exercise in August.  This is critical considering some of the turnover of key personnel on the staff who have never participated in a DSCA exercise.  There were still a significant number of senior leaders within the PR NG staff who had DSCA experience especially within the last two years supporting the state with COVID and civil unrest response.

As a leader in emergency preparedness training and readiness, ATS continues to actively work to deliver innovative, experience-based disaster-preparedness exercises solutions for local, state and federal agencies to protect communities. 

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