Drill ensures effectiveness of NDCS emergency plan

Drill ensures effectiveness of NDCS emergency plan




Rachel Kilcoin, Communications Manager/Rachel.kilcoin@nebraska.gov/402-479-5799

Laura Strimple, Chief of Staff/laura.strimple@nebraska.gov/402-479-5713


Drill ensures effectiveness of NDCS emergency plan


November 24, 2019 (Lincoln, Neb.) -- Should an emergency strike, the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) is prepared to respond. NDCS has fulfilled its performance objectives ahead of schedule for program development as part of Governor Pete Ricketts continuity initiative.

The Continuity of Operations Plan, rolled out by Governor Ricketts in 2015, requires that every state agency ensure it can continue to perform essential functions during a wide range of emergencies including acts of nature, accidents, and technological or attack-related events. On November 8, 2019, staff members conducted a drill that simulated the evacuation of the NDCS Central Office, which houses the bulk of the agency’s administration and support staff.

“Given that NDCS encompasses 10 facilities in various locations across the state, it is imperative that we have a plan in place that will allow us to function effectively,” noted NDCS Director Scott R. Frakes. “We need to ensure that key administrative operations are maintained in order to keep all facilities safe and secure.”

During the drill, a designated number of staff members were directed to report to an off-site location.

“One of the main objectives was to test the facility itself,” said Danielle Reynolds, emergency services coordinator for NDCS. “We needed to know if the building could handle the number of relocated staff members as well as all of the logistics that go along with that, including having enough computers, restrooms and other items available.”

“This helps us to identify and mitigate issues, while in a learning environment,” added Security Administrator Mark Rumery. “It provides a platform to bring issues to light and address concerns before an actual emergency occurs.”

In the two years leading up to this exercise, team members have worked on identifying mission-essential functions, analyzing agency processes and conducting table-top exercises in order to help flush out the final plan. A debriefing following the drill focused on successes and challenges that still need to be addressed.

“It went extremely well,” observed Diane Sabatka-Rine, chief of operations. “It takes quite a bit of effort to put an exercise like this together and it doesn’t end when it is over. Based on lessons learned during this drill, division leaders will have conversations with their team members to problem solve processes and ensure continuity of services in the event of an emergency relocation. Coordinators will work on implementing other scenarios, as a way to further strengthen the agency’s continuity program.”