Dubbed as “Shaken Horizons” the event will be held next week on May 16-19. More than 25 local, state and federal agencies will gather at the Emergency Operations Center in Scioto County to walk through missions that such an event would generate in the community.
Kim Carver, director of the Scioto County Emergency Management Agency, said Emergency Operations Plans outline response and recovery procedures that have been well thought out. She said each agency will walk through what their agency would be doing if a natural disaster such as an earthquake would occur.
Carver said planning for the exercise has been underway for more than a year. She said the main objective for the drill will be to meet the National Preparedness Goals for response and recovery to earthquakes. Carver said the county will evacuate its primary EOC in the LIFE Ambulance headquarters in downtown Portsmouth because of the simulated quake and resume operations at an alternate EOC at the new offices of the Ohio Division of Watercraft at Greenup Dam.
“This will give us experience in readiness to shift off command center locations if situations would warrant it,” Carver said. “Once the primary EOC is inspected for structural integrity, operations will resume from the primary location.”
Another part of the exercise will be the initial loss of communications through the Multi Agency Radio Communications System (MARCS). Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) will be activated to link the EOC with the Ohio Emergency Operations Center and local facilities during the outage. Carver said a portable MARCS radio tower will be secured during the afternoon that will enable primary communications to resume again later in the day.
“We wanted to test a host of issues from loss of primary command center and communications to running evacuation, inspection and reoccupation and sheltering operations in case the situation would ever arise,” Carver said.
Monday afternoon a hazardous material incident will spin off the exercise play in the Norfolk/Southern Railway yards in Portsmouth. The Portsmouth Fire Department and county hazardous materials response team personnel will advise of population protection measures until the threat of exposure downtown passes. Emergency public information through use of the Emergency Alert System will also be part of the drill.
Shawnee State University will hold a mock activation of its Campus Command Center to deal with inspecting buildings and reoccupation of facilities. They will also test notifications of campus populations for an in-place shelter order while the chemical release is underway.
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232, or firstname.lastname@example.org.