Thank you for drawing attention to the simulation exercises in Wales and Scotland

and to my own comments, but I would like the opportunity to clarify my suggestions: 

I believe that it is quite correct, and in fact essential, that the "full details of the exercise [in Wales] will not be fully revealed in order to determine the effectiveness of the systems which would be put in place in relatively authentic circumstances".  It any of the details are known in advance, the exercise will be of little use, and it is to be hoped that those planning the exercise have indeed kept the details confidential. The purpose is, after all, to see how all sectors would respond to an unexpected incidence of FMD.  I would also not object if the full results of the exercise are not revealed if, for security reasons, this was considered to be sensible.

However, enough should be reported to enable stakeholders to make informed suggestions to revise the contingency plans.

It is essential that the exercise should include one or more independent emergency management engineers to ensure that there is expertise in management of people and resources under crisis situations. They must be able to look coolly at operations research for disaster simulation and management, and analyse the exercise to identify shortcomings and areas for improvement. The analysis could be at two levels, as in the Silent Prairie reports, where the details were not revealed to the public, but enough has been written to provide the public with the necessary information.  As Martin Hugh-Jones wrote and which you have posted on warmwell (1-7 September): "In this day and age it should be possible to set up a realistic computer based war-game in which the actions taken quantitatively affect, negatively or positively, the outcomes at each stage with suitably built-in time delays. Even with a table top version this should be possible. Unfortunately too often there is a game script that is played out whatever the players do or not do."

I have seen no reports of the recent simulation exercise in Scotland, and would be disappointed if, as you report, it "was carried out using old technology".  Again, to quote Martin Hugh-Jones: " It is patently clear that GIS and handheld wireless computers are the way we all should be moving, with the data held in omni-available but secure databases", and I would add, the use of portable rapid diagnostic tests. This does underline the need for a permanently operational Expert Group with competence and international expertise as outlined by David Paton in my earlier message which you quote.

Mary Marshall
27 September 2003