The North American Division Adventist Community Services is currently (August 22 - 25) leading out in the National Mass Care Exercise, which is taking place in Missouri, along with the States of Iowa and Nebraska. The purpose is to simulate an actual crisis event in size and scope, and determine how we would respond as a community during a major disaster that may strike these areas in the future. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), State Emergency Management, Red Cross, Salvation Army, and several other NGOs have joined together to conduct this Mass Care Exercise. The Iowa-Missouri Conference ACS Director, Jodi Dickhaut, has played a role in developing this exercise for the past year.
During this event, NAD has been involved in representing Disaster Response in Jefferson City, MO at the Emergency Operations Center. There were approximately 100 individuals representing different agencies, that simulated the resources they could bring to play in a live situation. The drawbacks of the exercise were taken note of and will be addressed. With similar related operations taking place all over the State, ACS gathered support personnel from Iowa-Missouri, Central States, and Rocky Mountain Conferences in different parts of the State, culminating with the Mass Care Exercise event in Independence, MO at the Silverstein Eye Centers Arena. About 500 individuals have arrived and will serve in various roles as assigned by the organizers at the Arena, 100 of who are ACS volunteers.
This is the largest event of its size ever planned in the United States. The significance of this operation is witnessed by other state authorities and the Federal Government as well. Representatives from around the country have sent personnel to observe and capture how this Exercise is being conducted. After this Exercise, reports will be used to create plans for others in State Emergency Management offices around the nation. The Adventist Community Services Disaster Response Team, led by W. Derrick Lea, plans on working in a collaborative manner to share the information acquired with each of our conferences. "The intent is to get better at helping those experiencing crisis in an intentional way," stated Lea. Dr Sung Kwon, NAD ACS Director, expressed his excitement about the involvement of the Adventist Church with the Conference ACS leaders and volunteers. Kwon stated, "This is a great opportunity to serve and educate the communities in disaster response situations, also to be recognized as a vital team player to support the efforts as Adventist Church."