It's not going to be a surprise, but none of the responders know exactly how they will be required to act until the call is made at
9 a.m. Oct. 1.
The mock earthquake, estimated to be larger than a magnitude 7, will hit somewhere in or around Clallam County that Wednesday morning and about 30 agencies with more than 300 responders will jump into action, doing what they have been trained to do in a natural disaster.
Clallam County Emergency Management is coordinating the earthquake drill, making sure different agencies would be ready to respond not only to their list of mock disasters but to any real situations that arise during the three-hour drill.
"Our objective is to really make sure communication systems are in place, that agencies respond within the incident command system and that responders are able to respond to situations and set up shelters and distribution centers," said Clallam County Emergency Management Program coordinator Jamye Wisecup.
All responses will fall under the incident command system, or a series of planned reactions to different situations that each agency will be responsible for. The reactions to different emergencies are coordinated through the county's emergency operations center, much like a dispatch center coordinates responses to different 9-1-1 calls.
"The only thing worse than having no plan is having two or more plans," Wisecup said, explaining why the emergency operations center is the lead. "It used to be that the federal government was the lead agency in a huge disaster, but after Katrina, the organization changed from bottom up."
Wisecup and her team of emergency coordinators will begin making calls early Oct. 1. They will declare a mock emergency and give agencies details of what the disaster is.
Then a second series of calls are made to individual agencies with detailed scenarios they must respond to.
"For instance there could be a call made about a place with damaged infrastructure and major injuries in a certain place, so an agency would need to coordinate their own response appropriately after we dispatch them," Wisecup said, purposefully being vague as to not tip off who will respond to what.
"Plus, we will need to set up shelters and distribution centers in different areas and the placement of those stations will depend on the outcome of the earthquake in those areas."
Then, following the bottom up approach, if Clallam County cannot significantly respond to the needs of the community, the emergency operations center contacts the state, that in turn would contact the National Guard if the needs warranted that much of a response.
This drill will not go that far, however.
"While we really hope to get
everyone coordinated on our end to do what they need to do to handle these situations, we're hoping it will serve as a good reminder to the general public that they need to be prepared as well," said Clallam County Sheriff's Office coordinator Jim Borte.
"Remember, being notified of what you can do once the event occurs is one thing. But, good disaster preparedness starts well before that," said Stephanie Supko, Peninsula College's liaison to the team. "Experts suggest having 21 days worth of supplies ready and after Katrina, that list has changed, so be prepared."
Organizers suggest visiting the county's emergency operation Web site, which can be found off of www.clallam.net, or the state's site, which is emd.wa.gov.
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