Super Bowl was a collaborative effort for multiple agencies

Super Bowl was a collaborative effort for multiple agencies

Representatives from multiple agencies working in the Multi-Agency Coordination Center - January 2015

PHOENIX -- Super Bowl XLIX was an exciting time for the Arizona community. Parties, concerts, and multiple events at different venues offered the public plenty of opportunity to have a good time. And then, of course, there was the actual game itself, which came days after the other events.


What people attending the many festivities didn’t see were all the agencies and people working behind to scenes to ensure the safety of the attendees and the people working the events. Months before the game, interagency working groups were meeting to discuss logistics, security, aviation, hazardous materials, traffic, fire, infrastructure, emergency management, interoperability, public health, and more.


Nine days prior to Super Bowl Sunday, the Multi Agency Coordination Center (MACC) activated, and representatives from 131 local, state and federal agencies settled in to work together to monitor safety, operations, media, rumors, traffic, etc. around the clock from an undisclosed location in Phoenix.


One of the many agencies represented was the Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA).


“DEMA was involved with the Super Bowl to ensure situational awareness for the State Emergency Operations Center, in the unfortunate event that we would need to activate due to an incident surrounding this special event,” said Wendy Smith-Reeve, DEMA’s Deputy Director. “We also had personnel supporting at each of the venues, as well as at the MACC.” 


Billy Ross was DEMA’s Operations State Liaison Officer for Super Bowl in the MACC. His job was to monitor and share information coming into the MACC from various locations, including the Incident Management Team (IMT). He also represented the state to coordinate requests from any agency within the MACC.


DEMA Public Information Officers worked the MACC’s Public Information function where they monitored media, researched trends, set up potential interviews, and hunted down requested information.


Arizona’s National Guard helped ensure the safety and security of residents and visitors to Phoenix. “As the Guard, our Soldiers and Airmen have a unique homeland defense mission that allows them to support civil authorities during the ‘big game’,” said Major Gabe Johnson, Public Affairs Officer for the Arizona National Guard. “We had fighter and refueling aircraft enforce the FAA's temporary flight restriction over the stadium. We had teams checking for hazardous material threats in several key areas. We had transport helicopters, military police, command and control, and communications specialists on standby in case they were needed.”


Johnson said that events like the Super Bowl are a great training opportunity for everyone involved. “It’s also a good time for everyone to build on strong relationships with community partners.”


In order to help prepare responders, DEMA hosted 16 training classes, workshops, and exercises in 2014 for more than 1,000 emergency workers.


“These unique programs offered training at the awareness, performance and management level, and provided best practices for surveillance detection, infrastructure protection, deployment for an active shooter incident, consideration of legal issues, and prevention and response to incidents involving improvised explosive devices,” said Katherine Hassett, DEMA’s Training Coordinator.


When the “Whole Community” comes together to train and exercise, it helps to prevent or mitigate incidents that could threaten the safety of Arizona's residents and the tourists involved in the events.


“An example of why we exercise is the Communications exercise we did in November 2014,”said Jan Lindner, DEMA’s Exercise Branch Manager. “There were gaps and equipment issues identified in these exercises. The issues were resolved prior to SB 49 (Super Bowl XLIX) which helped reduce any problems during the game and leading up to the game.”


On game day, Arizona activated the State Emergency Operations Center to support county agencies and IMTs if an incident exceeded their response capacity.


“In order to support our local partners in an expedited manner for a planned high profile event, a posture of preparedness is sometimes required,” said Anthony Cox, DEMA’s Operations Section Chief. “By having limited staff in the SEOC before, during and after the event, all of the essential functions necessary for coordination and responding to support requests are prepared if the need arises.”


Dave Roby, DEMA’s WebEOC Coordinator, said that WebEOC, a real-time information sharing platform was the chosen tool for EOC coordination for Super Bowl events. WebEOC is web-based, so it can be accessed from anywhere. It allows users to share information, make resource requests, and maintain situational awareness.


Roby conducted WebEOC training for approximately 50 users in preparation for the multiple events during Super Bowl week. During the events, more that 90 people logged onto WebEOC on a regular basis for situation awareness, information sharing, and updates.


“We are happy to have been involved with all of the planning elements in 2014 that led right into the operational elements being implemented on game day,” said Smith-Reeve. “It truly takes the collaborative efforts of all partners at the local, county, state, tribal and federal levels to ensure this complex event is a great success.”