Developing Comprehensive Response Capabilities within the Maryland-National Capital Region

The Maryland-National Capital Region Emergency Response System (MDERS) was instituted to optimize emergency response to routine and large-scale incidents by facilitating collaboration between emergency management, fire/rescue/emergency medical services, law enforcement, public health, and healthcare agencies within Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties. In coordination with a Steering Committee, comprised of representatives from stakeholder agencies, MDERS identifies priority response capabilities within the region that require additional development and expansion. These capabilities and associated objectives are outlined in the MDERS Strategic Plan, which identifies measurable target outcomes for each area of response.

To meet the goals and objectives outlined in the Strategic Plan, MDERS has established a capability development process which builds, implements, and sustains critical response capabilities. At the core of the capability development process is the POETEE model, detailed in Figure 1 below, which consists of Planning, Organization, Equipment, Training, Exercise, and Evaluation.

Figure 1: POETEE Model

MDERS’s organizational structure is built around this model with three distinct, yet constantly overlapping, programs: Planning and Organization, Finance and Logistics, and Training and Exercise. These three programs work together throughout the capability development lifecycle to ensure all facets of a capability are being fully addressed.

The Planning and Organization Program oversees the drafting and implementation of comprehensive Capability Development Plans (CDPs) that identify the region’s strategy for meeting the desired capability targets. These plans identify in detail each aspect of the planning, organizing, training, exercising, equipping, and evaluating that will be necessary to accomplish target capability outcomes from the region’s emergency response agencies. The Finance and Logistics Program works through the entire capability development cycle, overseeing the creation of budgets; submission of proposals; and purchasing, deployment, and sustainment of equipment. Additionally, the Finance and Logistics Program oversees the grant administration and reimbursement for all MDERS-funded programs. The Training & Exercise Program coordinates with the Steering Committee, stakeholder agencies, the Planning and Organization Program, and the Finance and Logistics Program to deliver training and exercise opportunities that enhance the knowledge, skills, and abilities of regional emergency responders to support targeted capabilities as identified in the MDERS Strategic Plan and specific CDPs. Throughout this lifecycle, MDERS staff serve as project managers overseeing the long-term development and implementation of the elements outlined in the CDPs.

MDERS continues to successfully apply and adapt the capability development process across the Maryland-National Capital Region response enterprise to better strengthen our stakeholder’s ability to respond to a multitude of planned and unplanned emergency operations.