Proceedings magazine is a communication tool for the Coast Guard's Marine Safety & Security Council. Each quarterly magazine focuses on a specific theme of interest to the marine industry.
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38 Proceedings Summer 2014 www.uscg.mil/proceedings Training Black Swan 2013 A behind-the-scenes look at the Coast Guard's largest mass rescue operation exercise series. by Mr. PauL CuLver Passenger Vessel Safety Specialist U.S. Coast Guard District Seven Mr. Jesse rangLe Exercise Support Team Leader U.S. Coast Guard Force Readiness Command All swans were assumed to be white — until the late 1600s, when a European explorer found black swans in Austra‑ lia. Similarly, the term "black swan" 1 has come to mean a rare, unpredictable, or unforeseen event, typically one with extreme consequences. For example, 9/11 was a black swan event. In risk manage‑ ment terms, we call this low probability/high consequence and, true to its moto, the U.S. Coast Guard must be always ready to respond to this type of event. To that end, we established a series of mass rescue opera‑ tion (MRO) exercises named Black Swan, to improve pre‑ paredness within the passenger transport industry (cruise lines, airlines, railroads) and emergency management agen‑ cies. The Monarch of the Seas cruise ship hosted the frst Black Swan exercise from April 1‑5, 2013, during a post‑ refting cruise to the Bahamas. These exercises will help improve MRO plans, while simul‑ taneously applying previously identified response gaps, lessons learned, and best practices, as the foundational framework. Setting the Scene The Black Swan project began in 2011 on a fast track. The exercise's first design and planning conference involved the U.S. Coast Guard, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line, the Florida Advanced Surgical Transportation team, U.S. Embassy Nassau, Grand Bahama Island Rand Memorial Hospital, the Grand Bahamas Island Disaster Preparedness and Safety committee, and the Bahama emergency management agency. Planners determined that the exercises would uti- lize the Homeland Security Exercise and Evalua- tion Program 2 process and include as a minimum: • emergency notifcation, • resource coordination, • landing site management, • passenger and crew accountability and recep- tion center operations, • medical surge support, • incident management operations. The Exercise Design Process The Black Swan process started in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with about 50 design team members. How- ever, as the planning and design cycle continued, so did the design team's growth. The fnal design team totaled an unprecedented 168 members. Planners needed to incorporate the realities of a mass rescue operation, so the team reviewed previous exercises and several risk-based studies to establish a plan with the necessary logistical Summer2014_22.indd 38 5/13/14 9:46 AM