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Harris County Universal Services held its first live Rehearsal of Concept (ROC) preparedness drill on June 23 at NRG Stadium, and many guests from the county and local media came out to observe. 

The ROC showcased the contingencies that could occur during a hurricane and HCUS’ continuity of operations. The goal of the rehearsal was to eliminate single points of failure and guide HCUS employees with delivering uninterrupted capabilities and services during an all-hazards event.

According to HCUS Interim Executive Director MG Rick Noriega, the military uses ROCs to plan, prepare and practice for critical missions and emergency operations. Though the purpose of the ROC is to help ensure county operations continue in times of disaster, the mission goes much deeper. 

"As county employees, we have a duty and responsibility to try and protect and help the people of Harris County during an emergency, and that's ultimately why we're all here today," Noriega said. 

Harris County department leaders and elected officials attended and observed the drill, including Harris County Pollution Control Services Director Dr. Latrice Babin, Harris County Fire Marshal Laurie L. Christensen, Harris County Purchasing Agent Dewight Dopslauf, Harris County Facilities & Property Maintenance Director Jacob Frazelle, Harris County Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia and Harris County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management Coordinator Mark Sloan. 

During the open forum, Sloan said, "An exercise like this is not just important for Universal Services but for all departments in Harris County. Every department needs to review its plans and exercise them. We also need to include Universal Services because U.S. is critical to the county's response and recovery, from IT to radio to building security."

Robyn Doughtie, Director & Chief Information Officer of Fort Bend County Information Technology, said, "This was my first ROC drill, and I’m impressed. The Harris County Universal Services team did a phenomenal job walking through each step of a disaster. Most people don’t realize the amount of teamwork it takes to ensure continuity of operations."

Doughtie took detailed notes in order to implement several of the ROC steps in Fort Bend County.

"You can’t predict what will happen during a disaster event, so planning and preparation are key. I’m looking forward to attending future ROC drills hosted by the Universal Services team," Doughtie said.