Shapiro Administration Leads National Mass Care Training Exercise, Collaborates with Partners Across Public and Private Sectors to Improve Disaster Responses

Secretary Arkoosh joins members of the mass care exercise

Shippensburg, PA – Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Dr. Val Arkoosh and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director Randy Padfield today joined representatives from multiple state agencies, county and local governments, private sector agencies, federal partners, and fifteen other states for the 2024 Keystone 6, National Mass Care Exercise held at Shippensburg University. This four-day training kicked off Monday, and tests procedures for mass care and emergency response to a hypothetical presidentially declared disaster and covers issues related to mass feeding, sheltering, disability accessibility, reunification, and care for pets and service animals in the event of an emergency. 

Throughout the preparedness training, the Shapiro Administration will collaborate with hundreds of partners including volunteer organizations, private sector, and governmental partners at all levels across the Commonwealth and country to demonstrate the year-round work happening in PA to keep us safe and prepared.

“When emergencies happen, it requires quick coordination and action from people at all levels of government and across the private sector. I’m grateful for these experienced and compassionate professionals who work together throughout the year, so we are ready at a moment’s notice to help those who just experienced one of their worst days,” said Secretary Arkoosh. “Preparedness trainings and partnerships at all levels of community including public-private partnerships are vital to ensuring that we can promptly and efficiently serve those impacted by disasters.”   

The hypothetical scenario being used in the mass care training exercise is a prolonged natural gas outage during the winter. DHS is leading the coordination effort of a full-scale shelter and then manages the activation and assessment of the DHS Mass Care Task Forces. 

“PEMA is supporting this national exercise to test and strengthen the Commonwealth’s capabilities to shelter and care for people who may be displaced from their homes during a disaster or emergency,” said Director Padfield. “The capabilities exercised this week are critical to supporting people’s basic needs during a disaster regardless of the cause, and will help deepen the partnerships crucial to successfully implementing our plans.”

Individuals served by DHS and its partners’ programs and services are often disproportionally impacted when disasters happen due to health-related needs, economic strain, and circumstances compounded by environmental injustices, lack of safe housing, and insufficient access to food or health care. The 2024 Keystone 6 National Mass Care Exercise is a unique opportunity for leadership to not only learn more about complex issues that arise when providing mass care and emergency assistance after disasters, but to also meet and speak with the volunteers and professionals who are committed to serving Commonwealth residents during their most vulnerable times. 

This exercise is organized in conjunction with Cumberland County Emergency Management, PA State System of Higher Education, PA Public Utility Commission, and Pennsylvania regions of the American Red Cross. Participants include federal partners, multiple Commonwealth agencies and their counterparts from across the nation including Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Washington, D.C. Additional attendees include the Salvation Army, Feeding America, Pennsylvania Centers for Independent Living, and members of PEMA’s Business Emergency Operations Center.

Individuals and families can visit Ready PA to finds tips on preparing for emergencies.  

Secretary Arkoosh speaks to members of the mass care exercise

DHS Media Contact Details

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Brandon Cwalina

Press Secretary Department of Human Services 717-425-7606
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