The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) hosted the Howard Bend Tabletop Exercise (TTX) alongside St. Louis public utility stakeholders, private sector partners, local first responders, and state and federal partners. The multi-agency event focused on incident information sharing procedures, and emergency response and recovery operations at the Howard Bend Water Plant facility near St. Louis in Chesterfield, Missouri.
Dozens of representatives from multiple government agencies and the St. Louis community practiced organizational response, shared best practices, and worked to improve coordination mechanisms to help keep the public’s drinking water safe.
“Simulated events and joint exercises with trusted partners are important components of emergency preparedness,” said CISA Region 7 Regional Director Phil Kirk. “If a real-world emergency happens, no single agency is going to respond alone. Now more than ever, we need strong, trusted, reliable relationships with partners who have each other’s best interests at heart. Trust isn’t something that can be surged in a crisis; it is built over time and strengthened by delivering on your word. This is exactly what CISA, the City of St. Louis and federal, state, and local agencies from across the region share: We have each other’s best interests at heart and trust one another to do what is right to protect the people and places we care about.”
The exercise provided invaluable feedback for each emergency response team due to its complex scenario. The Howard Bend TTX tested responses to both physical and cyber threats to the water plant, making the multifaceted event a challenge for all involved.
“The fire from a forge makes steel tougher,” said Kirk. “This exercise scenario had to be challenging enough to make every participant better at what they do. And every individual improvement will add to the sum of our parts, strengthening the entire team.”
The exercise is not in response to any specific threat; it is part of CISA’s continual outreach with public and private sector partners. CISA works with municipalities, sports leagues, critical infrastructure partners, schools, and other organizations around the country to develop and exercise response plans for all potential threats in today’s complex security environment. CISA participates in approximately 30 exercises a year, and the agency has staff strategically positioned throughout the U.S. to advise on ways to enhance security and resilience. Every citizen is encouraged to speak up if they see something suspicious. If you see something, say something. Additional resources and tools are available on the agency’s website through its Hometown Security initiative.