By Denis O’Sullivan
The Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) is responsible for the safety of American buildings, information, and personnel at U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide. Thus, they take emergency management preparation seriously.
One emergency scenario which DSS prepares for is escalating threats due to civil unrest. In areas of civil unrest, the threat environment can change rapidly but, with sufficient training and preparation, potential harm can be mitigated. Training with first responders and host nation partners is aimed at improving muscle memory and connections.
DSS personnel at the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg’s Regional Security Office (RSO) organized a crisis response exercise with more than 100 participants on Jan. 25-27. During the drill, which was based on a notional civil unrest scenario, crisis management training instructors from the Foreign Service Institute advised first responders and consulate workers on disaster preparation. Additionally, the Bureau of Medical Services’ Office of Strategic Medical Preparation provided first responders with mass casualty post-preparedness.
During the exercise, participants recognized and treated simulated traumas like massive hemorrhages, head injuries, hypothermia, and constricted airways, attended a triage and casualty movement class, and learned how to train newcomers at post.
DSS’ Office of Special Programs’ emergency planning team also helped RSO coordinate interagency exercises and validate emergency action plans.
Trainers helped consulate personnel create a medical incident management plan to better respond to life-threatening emergencies.
The Department instructors said the simulations, which included medical training, a backpack thrown over the consulate wall, a vehicle fire on the property, and detainee handcuff and search methods, would prepare responders psychologically and physically for similar scenarios.
This interagency training also enhanced local ties and improved participants’ crisis response skills, all of which makes the community safer.
Denis O’Sullivan is the regional security officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg.