Humanitarian Resource Institute:  A U.S. & International Resource on the Scope of Humanitarian Assistance

Tripartite Exercise 2000: Canada - Mexico - United States
Foreign Animal Disease Response Simulation Exercise

Contact: Stephen M. Apatow
Director of Research and Development 
Humanitarian Resource Institute Biodefense Reference Library
Foreign Animal and Zoonotic Disease Center
Eastern USA: (203) 668-0282   Western USA: (775) 884-4680

Partners and participants in this exercise included:

  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 
  • Texas Animal Health Commission, Texas
  • Animal Agriculture Coalition (AAC):  Representatives on the US National Animal

  • Health Emergency Management Steering Committee included the Farm Bureau, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, the National Pork Producers' Council and the American Sheep Industry Association.
  • Direccíon General de Salud Animal, Comisíon Nacional de Sanidad Agropecuaria (SAGAR) 
  • Animal Products Directorate, Laboratories Directorate, Policy, Planning and Coordination Directorate, 
  • Centre for Policy and Epidemiology, National Centre for Foreign Animal Disease, CFIA 
  • CFIA Area Network Offices (Programs and Operations) in Alberta and Ontario
  • Provincial Ministries of Agriculture 
  • Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Canadian Pork Council, Canadian Dairy Breeds 
  • Emergency Measures Ontario, Emergency Preparedness Canada 
Tripartite Exercise 2000: Final Reports (Texas)

After action Report:  TERT Tripartite Exercise 2000 November 1 – 9, 2000 
Prepared by Walter L. Riggs, DVM, USDA APHIS VS, and Ken Waldrup, DVM, PhD, 
Texas Animal Health Commission 
Report: Word Document

Key observations in report:

  • The concept of a foreign animal disease disaster was very new to the emergency management system.
  • Four issues that required separate evaluations apart from the exercise itself: 1) the authority of the TERT to act, 2) the activation of the Texas Emergency Operations Center, 3) the ability of TERT personnel to direct and control the disease event and 4) the internal evaluation (“hot wash”).  Dr. Williams stated that the TERT personnel were well versed in disease control but less acquainted in matters pertaining to emergency management. 
  • The TERT exercise also provided an opportunity for increased awareness to local and state emergency management officials of the devastating potential of a foreign animal disease to our state and nation.
  • Finally the exercise created a sense of urgency for foreign animal disease awareness to leaders at all levels of government.  Preparedness is the key. 
Tripartite 2000 Exercise: Observations, Comments and Lessons Learned
CNA Corporation:  Operations Evaluation Group
Rosemary Speers, Matt Robinson, and Michael Webb
Report: Word Document

Key observations in report:

  • The overall goal of Tripartite Exercise 2000 was to practice and evaluate a North American emergency response plan for Foot and Mouth Disease, focusing on communication and use of the vaccine.
  • Decision makers frequently lacked information they needed during conference calls, such as epidemiological data on the spread of the disease, forms that should have accompanied samples for testing, and contact information for other countries, states, and agencies. 
  • Another issue was recognition of who could authorize compensation for producers as well as the ability to do this quickly so as to have a “check in hand” when visiting individual farms.  Exercise players at all levels of the exercise debated who had the legal authority to quarantine, depopulate and indemnify herds. 
  • A lack of supporting documentation and written forms of communication hindered the responders in accomplishing mission objectives.
  • Effective communication with other government agencies and organizations potentially has a tremendous impact on identifying and halting the spread of the disease.   Given the possibility that bioterrorism was the cause of the outbreak, USDA could be involved with both crisis and consequence management.  This would require effective communication among law enforcement responders such as OIG and FBI.  APHIS’s own bioterrorism / disaster group was not observed to be a player in the exercise though they are reportedly a necessary link for management of an intentional outbreak.  Similarly, the establishment of quarantine necessitates communication with customs officials, and late notification raises questions on the efficacy of banning exports early in the exercise.  At the State level, responders were unsure who had responsibility to notify other states.  The TERT lacked even the names and contact information of local agencies with whom they might collaborate in a real-world outbreak.
  • Though the Incident Coordinator stated a high priority on messages for the public and industry, this was somewhat lost as a focus of the exercise. 
  • At APHIS we observed that the Emergency Management Leadership Team did not play as a group in the exercise, though several of the constituents were present.  This group, who would serve as staff and advisors to the CVO and coordinate efforts from their various agencies, may be especially important in a real-life outbreak when the CVO could be in downtown Washington, DC,  headquarters dealing with various hot political issues.  We also found reluctance on the part of participants to perform within a well-defined “chain of command” as well as reluctance of the Incident Coordinators to utilize their authority during the exercise, resulting in defused task accountability.
  • A primary focus of both the exercise and its preceding orientation was the Vaccine Decision Tree. Though a vaccine decision team was tasked with discerning whether the U.S. should utilize vaccination as an outbreak control measure, in the end, the actual decision was made in a meeting at APHIS with the entire, multi-disciplinary group.  It was unclear whether this was for educational and training purposes of all those involved, or was needed because the vaccination decision team had difficulty gathering all the data needed to make a confident recommendation.  While the vaccine decision team could gather information and make a recommendation on whether to vaccinate, the team did not seem prepared to handle the “hot” political issues that might arise.  At the state level, players were concerned and confused over their role in the vaccination decision and when it might be “too late” to use vaccination as a method of subduing the outbreak. 
Texas Emergency Response Team Exercise
Paul Williams, DVM, Special Assistant, Office of the Governor
Georgia Emergency Management Agency
Report: Word Document

Key observations in report:

  • This exercise provided a glimpse at the problems inherent in a disease outbreak that, in large part,  has no public health significance being an activity of the Public Health Department. 
  • Utilizing state resources through emergency management  costs could be cut by as much as 80%. Such cost cutting could only be accomplished by moving quickly which would require a separate animal in disaster functional annex that is not under public health.
  • EOC personnel, however, did not supply the equipment and logistical support that they could have had they had a thorough understanding of the resources available through state emergency management. 
  • Probably the single most persistent road block  during the exercise was the question of funding.  Who pays for what, how much and when? 
Evaluation - TERT Field Operations Site (FOS) - Tripartite 2000 Exercise
Dr. Nancy Roberts, USDA APHIS VS, Oklahoma
Report: Word Document

Key observations in report:

  • Information on the exercise scenario or outbreak should be provided to participants or emergency responders prior to their arrival on site. 
  • Discussions on administrative forms to use, what information was needed and who to submit them to were being held on Day 1; this should have been determined prior to the exercise.
  • FEMA’s Incident Command System provides direction on organizing a response to an emergency and should be used as a resource and possible guide. Consideration should be given to provide TERT members Incident Command training.
  • The Field Operations Site (FOS) and EMOC apparently were following different time lines for the scenario which led to confusion regarding the numbers and locations of affected premises, quarantines, etc.
  • Administrative personnel on this exercise needed guidance on who had purchasing ability for supplies or for indemnification of infected/exposed  animals. This and other policy decisions should be made in advance and provided in writing.
  • Equipment needs for the exercise were not adequately addressed, or underestimated, i.e., fax machines, copiers, flip charts, teleconference equipment. 
  • It appeared that some of the confusion on Monday was a result of a lack of strong leadership, that is, participants did not seem to be clear as to who was in charge, what their roles and   responsibilities were, and how to begin.
  • Only a few cellular phones were available for this exercise. In a real emergency, they would be essential for coordination of field activities as well as safety concerns. 
  • Incompatibility between State and Federal computer database systems and e-mail systems remains a serious problem, and will be magnified with concurrent outbreaks in multiple states. Finding a compatible nationwide system may be a challenge, but it will be essential for rapid communication between multiple states. 
  • Policy decisions regarding quarantine and depopulation, animal and animal products movement, etc., should be developed early and clearly communicated in writing. Too much time was spent in conference calls discussing policy decisions, and final decisions were not communicated clearly to the FOS. 
  • While language barriers were not a problem with this exercise, bilingual personnel might be essential in an emergency to facilitate communication between producers, the media, and State and Federal personnel. 
2/26/01 7:37:25 AM: Summary of Recommendations from the Planners/Coordinators based on Evaluators’ and Observers’ reports. 
Report: Word Document
United States: Related Information: ..

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