Training and Execise Management

Food Safety Authority of Ireland crisis simulation exercise

Food Safety Authorities
  • Background: Recognising the increasingly interconnected nature of crisis management in the food sector, an inter-agency protocol was established to connect eight government agencies in Ireland for a more unfiied crisis response. New roles, responsibilities and inter-agency collaboration demanded training and exercises for all participating agencies and stakeholders.

  • Challenge: The FSAI had a need to test a new inter-agency protocol for ‘the management of a food crisis’ with six other government agencies and authorities that would be part of the response. The key challenge was bringing together numerous stakeholders from different locations in Ireland for the exercise planning, delivery and evaluation.

  • Solution: Exonaut provided a simple and transparent tool to design, deliver and evaluate the complex, distributed food safety exercise in real-time. 4C’s exercise team engaged over 200 players and 40 exercise control staff in 8 locations across Ireland. The findings were recorded in real-time in our supporting software suite, Exonaut.

  • Benefits: Exonaut enabled the effective management of a complex, distributed, simulation exercise, providing situational awareness of the many moving parts of the scenario alongside real-time observations against the exercise objectives by a team of evaluators. Within an hour of completing the exercise, all exercise data was compiled and ready to use as an instrumental part of the debriefings across all participating groups across Ireland.

  • Customer: Food Safety Authority of Ireland, the statutory body responsible for ensuring food produced, distributed or marketed in Ireland complies with food safety and hygiene standards, best practice codes and legal requirements.

In Wicklow, Ireland, 4C Strategies conducted its largest public sector exercise to date with the FSAI. The simulation exercise was set up with a set of four objectives:

  • To test and verify the organisational arrangements in response to a chemical contamination of a food chain.
  • To examine how information is shared and the effectiveness of communication within and between agencies.
  • To assess the decision-making processes during the management of chemical contamination of a food chain and last of all;
  • To test the external communications response and ensure it has more focus on generic public information.

The exercise started with a teleconference with all of the participating agencies with the objective of assessing the magnitude of the crisis and decide on what action to take. As the scenario unfolded throughout the day, the events gained traction in the media increasing pressure to communicate consistently, clearly and coherently. Over the course of the six hours the 200 participants were subject to some 240 injects with new information, to assess correctly and share with all actors in the exercise.

Designing, delivering and evaluating the food safety exercise in Exonaut enabled the effective management of a complex simulated exercise, while developing the crisis management capability of the different participating agencies. All of the knowledge gained or results found were compiled and saved in Exonaut, to be used for future preparations in crisis management and exercise delivery.

We’d like to thank all of the participating agencies for the opportunity to be an integral part of the important work in securing the food safety chain in Ireland for many years to come.

Participants for the SIMEX included representatives from: Health Service Executive (Environmental Health Officers & Public Analyst Laboratory), Local Authority Veterinary Inspectors, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Department of Health and the Irish Food Board (Bord Bia).

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