EMI’s VTTX program continues to evolve and expand to meet the demands of the emergency management community. Partnering with EDEN to develop training related to agriculture strengthened both sides of the partnership.
A new agricultural series focused on how an outbreak of infectious diseases would impact livestock, was so well received that EMI added four additional offerings of the training.
EMI conducts a monthly series of Virtual Table Top Exercises (VTTX) using a video teleconference platform to reach community-based audiences around the country and provide a virtual forum for disaster training. The VTTX programs are designed for a community-based group of at least ten or more personnel from local or state emergency management organizations with representatives from other disciplines such as public safety, public works, public health, health care, government, administrative, communications, military, private sector, non-governmental organizations or NGOs, and other community partners. Participants must have an appropriate site equipped with video teleconference capability that can access FEMA's virtual platform.
This first VTTX that EDEN helped to develop was based on an outbreak of “glanders,” an infectious disease that occurs primarily in horses, mules, and donkeys, and also other animals, such as dogs, cats and goats. The bacteria that cause glanders can be transmitted to humans through contact with body fluids or tissues of infected animals, or by inhaling dust or sprays contaminated by infected animals. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there have been no naturally occurring cases of glanders reported in the United States since the 1940s; however, sporadic reports of glanders do occur in other parts of the world. The high mortality rate in humans, lack of a vaccine, and increased risk of exposure to infected animals through global logistics; provides a sound platform for emergency management planning considerations.
During the first VTTX, more than 250 people took part including representatives from state departments of agriculture, state and community fair planning teams, veterinarians and staff, state and local emergency management agencies, and farming communities.
One participant shared this about the VTTX experience:
“Using the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN) as an agricultural exercise development partner with FEMA was an ideal collaboration. Extension is accustomed to tackling difficult issues that affect agriculture at the local and state levels. FEMA brought the federal perspective. Working together, a scenario that addresses the whole community evolved during the development process. Organizations have the opportunity to work together to understand new viewpoints, confront challenges, and build upon each other’s strengths. Real disasters don’t occur in a vacuum. Exercises shouldn’t either. This program enables participants to work with other agencies just like they would in the real world.”