The Ready Responders Boots on the Ground Exercise

Lisa Orloff December 8, 2017

“We are all first responders” FEMA director Craig Fugate is an advocate for a whole of community response, viewing citizens that emerge from disasters as “survivors” rather than “victims”. 

This critical shift in FEMA’s philosophy follows from the perspective that citizens can’t just wait for the federal government to save them in a huge disaster.  Fugate’s philosophy of “whole-community response,” seeks to decentralize disaster management from the federal government and involve the private sector, volunteers, and private citizens. The idea is aimed at solving some of the glaring weaknesses in how the government approaches disaster response, flaws that were exposed most clearly by the delayed and uncoordinated response to Katrina. 

World Cares Center was founded to address this overreliance on centralized official response. WCC’S experience in responding to numerous disasters expediting support to those in need facilitates the building of more resilient communities by teaching traditional disaster management methods to nontraditional partners.  Resilient communities are proactive communities where citizens are empowered to contribute to their own recovery, leading to faster and more successful rebounds from disasters.   

The Ready Responders  Boots on the Ground Exercise (RRN BOG)

This is one of three World Cares Centers foundational program that works in concert with the Disaster Volunteerism Training Academy and the Ready Responders Network. Together these three programs ensure that everyone is on an equal playing field empowered through education, connectivity and support to emerge as a Ready Responder. Ready Responders are individuals that by day have a regular job however when disaster or crisis strikes they are ready to help themselves, their neighbors and their colleagues recover and emerge from disasters more resilient. As 9/11 Responder Ron Vega has stated, “World Cares Center, they get you ready for anything”

Boots on the ground exercises are not a new idea, the military conducts complicate real life scenarios where what has been learned in the classroom can be practiced in real life with simulated stressors that allow the participate to feel as if they are in the middle of a real disaster response without the risk.


A new concept was the integration of civilian responders and NGO’s alongside and theses exercises. Lois Clark Mc Coy, founder of The National Urban Search and Rescue facilitated the use of military resources during their exercise to be shared with civilian groups in Southern California. World Cares Centers founder, Lisa Orloff was fortune enough to participate in two such exercises before Lois passed away in 2016 at the age of 90. Lois brought together hundreds of corporations, NGO’s and change-makers to practice and share their disaster capabilities.  The result was a dynamic environment with and cutting edge solutions being tested across cultures and capabilities.  




In 2017 World Cares Center (WCC) and partners, will participate in FEMA’s national VIRTUAL exercise, Gotham Shield. Leading up to the event WCC’s constituents, individuals seeking to become disaster volunteers, current disaster volunteers and local leaders will be trained to respond as teams with in their community with in the first 72 hours after a disaster strikes and how to continue in a coordinated manner.


“The first 72 hours after a disaster are critical. Electricity, gas, water and telephones may not be working. In addition, public safety services such as police and fire departments may not be able to reach you immediately during a serious crisis”


World Cares Center’s Disaster Volunteerism Course offering includes courses for individuals that are exploring if Disaster Volunteerism is right for them and seeking to acquire a basic understanding of how what a response may be, skills based courses for experienced volunteers    to expand their response capacity and leadership and planning classes for those that seek guidance on how to develop and managing a response team.  During this time partners are encouraged to concecptualize what and how they will test thier capabilites.

After the 2017 Virtual exercise WCC will regroup with it members and assess the success and challenges of their preparedness and participation and reach beyond 72 hours.

Training will be tailored based on the outcome and coordination meetings will be conducted to prepare our constituents to participate in the Boot on the Ground exercise building upon the FEMA Gotham Shield experience.

The 2018 Boots on the Ground exercise will incorporated the FEMA Gotham Shield scenario as a foundation adding additional details to the drill so that our constituents can learn and practice the skills needed with in their communities. Developed and expanded scenarios will test the community’s capabilities to respond to and recover from the most relevant threats to their community and take into consideration the *Unique Challenges these communities face.

As the scenario is further developed the programing team will continue to engage and train new members and work with those previously training to develop their plans to respond in a live simulation on the ground. We will use the training and the Ready Responders Network portal as a main form of coordination and connectivity with officials. To become involved email

e are all first responders

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