Emery County participates in Shakeout drill
The outlying counties weren't directly involved in Utah's Great Shakeout, but they did participate on the third day of the exercise. Thoughts were by the third day, the Salt Lake emergency managers would know more what support they needed from the counties not directly involved.
Emery County Emergency Personnel met in the conference room of the sheriff's storage and office building. Emergency Manager Kyle Ekker, radio operators, Tosha Barnett, Jerod Curtis, Bret Mills, Ham radio operators Jim Anderson and JimAnderson; corrections secretary Jan Luke; EMT manager Jim Gordon, State liaison for southeastern Utah, Martin Wilson; fire chief Greg Oliver and Sgt. Tom Harrison from the Emery County Sheriff's Office all participated in the exercise. Sgt. Mitch Vetere and Karen Smith, emergency planner for Green River were on alert in Green River and coordinated operations there from the city hall.
Det. John Barnett manned the mobile command center which was set-up outside to receive radio signals and to transmit information from Emery County to the other six participating counties.
A scenario was prepared which outlined Emery County's part in the Shakeout. The scenario suggested long distance phone lines were out due to the severing of fiber optic cables. Cell phone use was spotty. The radio systems were fully operational and communication with the Wasatch Front was possible. The southeastern region of the state didn't receive any property damage and the Wasatch Front was requesting aid for different situations they were dealing with.
One request was for three law enforcement strikeforce teams in marked police vehicles. It was determined Emery County could fulfill this request. They also requested three ambulance teams with two intermediate EMTs on each ambulance; three strike teams of fire fighting engines with four fully equipped firefighters on each engine. They also requested two dump trucks, two front end loaders, one backhoe with operators; two strike teams of fuel tankers enough to supply whatever equipment is sent to help. All units were to respond to the South Towne Mall in Sandy where the staging would take place.
Road damage was sustained in the Red Narrows and crews have been working to keep that road clear for emergency traffic only. They called for assistance in maintaining that road and keeping it open as the road continues to slide. Nielson Construction was also contacted and they said they could help by transporting the loader to the Red Narrows.
An alert was also sent out that Eastern Utah should be prepared to take an influx of 7,000 people displaced by the earthquake.
Mary Huntington from the county personnel department prepared the information requested to find out how many displaced people the county could handle. She called the school district and all of the motels in Green River. Green River could handle 500 people for seven days with their two schools, motels and church.
The western end of the county has eight schools which can be used and 10 churches. This would accommodate approximately 3,100 people for seven days. Longer if more supplies could be shipped in from Colorado and points east.
One problem Emery County might encounter would be not having enough volunteers available to man the shelters. The Red Cross would be in charge of the shelters. It was unclear what the evacuees would be coming with, bedding, food, personal supplies, it wasn't known what sheltering them would entail or it wasn't known how they would get here and what transportation would be needed. Preparations were also made to ensure any medicines the evacuees might need were obtained.
Emery County road department director Wade Nielsen was on hand to keep the emergency response team informed on what equipment the county has available and whether it can be used to help out without putting the county short for routine operations. It was determined extra equipment would be available to keep the Red Narrows open and the heavy equipment operators could also go to help keep US-6 open.
Fremont Junction would need to be shut down to keep people from trying to re-route up SR-10 to try to get to the Wasatch Front. Traffic was being routed through Richfield and up I-15 in that direction to keep traffic off of SR-6.
The welfare of all coal miners in the area was checked at the time of the earthquake to ensure their safety.
At the end of the drill all participants evaluated how the exercise went and which areas need to be improved. Communications with the other counties needs to be improved. All of the Emery County equipment worked well, but the Carbon County communications dropped the patch to keep Emery County connected so the only dispatch the Emery County team could hear was Price. In the mobile command center outside, Det. Barnett was able to hear the radio feeds from all counties involved including Grand, Carbon, San Juan, Uintah, and others.
Wilson said in the event of a real emergency he would help on the Wasatch Front and also make sure the counties in his jurisdiction had the help they needed from the state. His area includes Carbon, Emery, Grand, San Juan, Navajo nation and the Ute mountain Utes. He would also shuttle supplies where they were needed around the state.
The team filled out the evaluation papers to see where improvements can be made for future drills and also in the event of a real emergency. Mills communications director said the Ham operators have the capability of sending digital messages over the airwaves too. Which could be helpful for emergency communication purposes. One message could be sent and received by all involved.