Drill to test responders

Drill to test responders

The stage has been set, plans are in the works and only a handful of select people know the details behind a mega drill, which will test the region’s capabilities in response to a wide scale disaster.
The brainchild behind the operation is the Weakley County Emergency Management Agency Office and the Weakley County Local Emergency Planning Commission. The large-scale disaster exercise will take place in Martin from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.
The event is designed to test law enforcement, firefighters, paramedics, EMTs and hospital personnel from the entire county. Portions of the event will take place on the UT Martin campus, near Servall in Martin and off of Skyhawk Parkway near Gardner-Hynds Road.
“The purpose of this exercise is to test Weakley County’s ability to respond to and sustain operations during a catastrophic disaster.  Responders will be challenged with  earthquake-specific incidents such as collapsed structures, numerous casualties and damaged infrastructure,” Jason Hypes, Weakley County EMA deputy director announced:   
Area residents should not be alarmed when they see an excess number of officers, firefighters and equipment in transit and in the mentioned areas Friday.
“We anticipate numerous response vehicles in the areas of Servall, the UTM Campus and Skyhawk Parkway.  Response apparatus will not be using lights and sirens unless a true emergency is present. We appreciate the patience and understanding of our local residents and commuters as we strive to better serve you in the future,” Hypes added.
Numerous officials are traveling to Martin to observe the drill. They represent the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), Oak Ridge National Laboratories, the FBI and 101st Airborne.
Many West Tennessee response agencies will also be on hand to evaluate the overall event.  
“We perform these exercises to find the limits of our abilities and resources” Weakley County Emergency Management director  Jamison Peevyhouse said.  
“By using outside evaluators, we gain a clearer understanding of our current ability. That is invaluable as we set out a future path-plan to better serve the citizens of Weakley County.”
The event corresponds with the Great American ShakeOut across the Central United States this week.
The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut today will involve more than one million people through a broad-based outreach program, partnership with the media and public advocacy by hundreds of partners.
This event is being organized by the Central United States Earthquake Consortium and the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. The ShakeOut will be centered around a simultaneous Drop, Cover, and Hold On drill that was held at 10:15 a.m. today.   
Drop, Cover, and Hold On is the easy-to-remember and recommended personal protective action to take in the event of an earthquake.  
Today (Tuesday) also marks the 200th anniversary of the last of the 1811-12 earthquakes that destroyed the town of New Madrid, Missouri and created Reelfoot Lake in northwest Tennessee.
Why do people need
to get ready for
an earthquake?
Scientists estimate that there is a 25-40 percent probability of a damaging earthquake occurring in the central U.S. within the next 50 years.  
Citizens and communities need to take preparedness steps to physically and financially survive a damaging earthquake. People should be aware of what to do before, during, and after an earthquake.
What should people do before an earthquake?
Everyone should secure items their space (home and workplace) to avoid injuries and damage, have a disaster plan, gather emergency supplies, practice what to do during an earthquake so you will be ready to react, and learn more about earthquake insurance.  
What is earthquake insurance?
Earthquake insurance is an insurance policy (often called a rider) that is purchased separately from your homeowners policy.  
Pricing and deductibles vary by carrier.  
Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage caused by an earthquake, but you will need to check with your insurance broker for policy specifics.  Usually, only by having earthquake insurance will your insurance cover earthquake related damage.
What should people do during an earthquake?   
Drop, Cover, and Hold On! It is the safest action to take during ground shaking. There are 3 steps:
• DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!),
• Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and
• HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.
If there isn’t a table or desk near you, drop to the ground and then if possible move to an inside corner of the building.
Be in a crawling position to protect your vital organs and be ready to move if necessary, and cover your head and neck with your hands and arms.
Do not try to run to another room just to get under a table–you are more likely to be injured if you try to move around during strong shaking.
These are general guidelines for most situations. Depending on where you are (in bed, driving, in a theater, etc.), you might take other actions.
The main point is:  Immediately protect yourself as best as possible where you are.
Do not move to another location. Earthquakes occur without any warning and may be so violent that you cannot run or crawl; likely knocking you to the ground where you happen to be. You will never know if the initial jolt will turn out to be the start of the big one.
What should people do after an earthquake?   
Once you and others are safe, begin your recovery process right away.  If you have an earthquake insurance policy with your homeowners or renters insurance, and have suffered any property damage, contact your insurance provider for assistance and to file claims.
For more information, visit www.cusec.org.

WCP 2.07.12

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