Arlington tests preparedness

ARLINGTON — While the Pacific Northwest experienced power outages across 100 communities in Washington, Oregon and Idaho due to a big storm the evening of Thursday, June 4, Arlington was busy staging it’s own earthquake Friday morning.

The drill was a collaboration among the three major agencies in town: the city, the school district and the hospital.

Coordinated by Chris Badger who is an employee of all three agencies, she recruited a lot of people to stage a big disaster that was a regional exercise beyond Arlington as well.

“We are so happy to have Chris Badger working with all three agencies,” said Heather Logan, an assistant administrator at Cascade Valley Hospital.

“Drills like this are wonderful practice for enacting a plan on paper,” said Logan, noting that the Weston High School students did a great job at acting as injured patients.

“They stayed in character until the end,” Logan said.

The drill even included a fake fatality, Logan said.

“The HAM radio people were really helpful, too.”

Logan explained that they assumed telephone service would go dead in the case of a major earthquake so they recruited HAM radio buffs to fill the need.

Verizon argued the case, however, with three Verizon representatives at the City Hall, standing by to ensure cell phone service.

Verizon’s regional emergency response team, Shownein Torik, Craig Mathews and Jason Yonan brought their portable cell truck to show their support.

“We want the city to know that we are reliable,” Yonan said.

City employees from most departments gathered in the Council Chambers to help set up the Emergency Operations Center, and quietly went about their business, documenting reports of injuries and damages throughout the city, peering into their computer screens and relaying information as needed.

“It was an excellent exercise,” Logan said. “It really helps to run through it to know the plan is going to work.”

Meanwhile, out in the bigger world of the Pacific Northwest, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA warned residents due to the wind story around the Northwest to exercise caution when using alternative sources of energy.

“Power grids, generating plants, transformer stations, power poles and even buried cables are vulnerable. As we all review our family disaster plans and disaster kits, emergency power needs can rank right up with food, water, first aid kits and shelter, but we need to be careful,” said FEMA Acting Regional Administrator Dennis Hunsinger.

“Never use a portable generator in a garage, carport, basement, crawlspace or other enclosed or partially-enclosed area, even with ventilation. If you start to feel sick, dizzy, or weak while using a generator, get to fresh air immediately,” Hunsinger said.

If you think that electric power has been restored to your area but your home is still without power, call your local power company.

Click here for more photos.

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