June 2, 2016
Whatcom Unified Emergency Coordination Center
For Immediate Release
Story Opportunities: Cascadia Rising Earthquake/Tsunami Exercise
On June 7 and 8, more than 40 organizations in Whatcom County will take part in the largest earthquake drill ever held in western Washington. The Cascadia Rising exercise will test the abilities of fire, police, emergency management, and support volunteers to respond to a 9.0 magnitude earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone as well as its resulting tsunami.
Successful life-saving and life-sustaining operations in the aftermath of such a large-scale disaster will hinge on the effective coordination and integration of cities, counties, state agencies, federal officials, the military, and tribal nations, as well as non-government organizations and the private sector. In addition to Whatcom County government, the Port of Bellingham and the cities of Bellingham, Blaine, Everson, Ferndale, Lynden, Nooksack and Sumas are all participating in Cascadia Rising.
As the simulated damage will be widespread and not limited to city boundaries, many of the unincorporated areas of the County are also participating, including Sudden Valley, Birch Bay, the Foothills, Maple Falls, Lummi Island, and Point Roberts.
Activities in all these locations may include first responders, amateur radio operators, and civilian volunteers. Below are just some of the unique story opportunities available before, during and after the 34-hour exercise.
June 7: Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) volunteers, in partnership with Bellingham Fire, Police, and Public Works, will simulate assessing damage to critical infrastructure surrounding Fire Station 1 and report their findings to Area Commanders. Contact: Paul Gazdik, email@example.com, 360.815.1031, whatcomready.org/cert
June 7 & 8: Numerous Bellingham City staff will be participating in support efforts at the Whatcom Unified Emergency Coordination Center (WUECC). Contact: Paul Gazdik, firstname.lastname@example.org, 360.815.1031, www.cob.org/services/safety/emergencies
June 7: Amateur radio operators with the Blaine Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) will activate and staff the Emergency Operations Center radio room at the Blaine Police Station from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Volunteers will gather situation reports from amateur radio operators in the Blaine area, including Point Roberts, and forward all relevant information to the WUECC Communications Room. The Blaine ACS will also deploy their Mobile Communications Post (MCP) to one or more locations in and around the city. The MCP is a converted ambulance containing a fully functional, self-contained mobile radio room. Contact: Chris Doutre, email@example.com, 360.296.8193, blaineacs.org
June 7: City Staff will activate the Emergency Operations Center in the Ferndale Police Department as soon as the exercise begins that morning. Amateur radio volunteers with the Ferndale Auxiliary Communications Service will staff the EOC communications room from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., coordinating exercise communications between Ferndale participants and the WUECC amateur radio team. Contact: Riley Sweeney, firstname.lastname@example.org, 360.685.2353, cityofferndale.org
June 7 & 8: Sudden Valley Emergency Preparedness Committee, South Whatcom Fire Authority, and Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District will establish a Unified Command at the South Whatcom Fire Authority Station #22 on June 7 and June 8. Sudden Valley CERT teams and Sudden Valley Auxiliary Communications Service will also staff the Communications Room using the ACS and CERT portable “Go Kits” 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., coordinating exercise communications between Sudden Valley Unified Command, CERT and the Whatcom Unified Emergency Coordination Center. Field teams in Sudden Valley will radio in damage reports to the local command post to be collated and transmitted to the WUECC while local incident management teams will direct responses. Contact: Owen Bamford, email@example.com
Western Washington University
June 7: Multiple departments, both academic and administrative, will be taking part in the exercise. Activities include: set up of triage tents on the lawn of the Communications Facility, damage surveys conducted by Facilities Management personnel, and activation of Western’s Emergency Operations Center. Contact: Sue Sullivan, Sue.Sullivan@wwu.edu, 360.650.6512, wwu.edu
Co-Located Federal Agencies
June 7 & 8: Federal agencies located in Whatcom County will also be participating in the exercise, including the National Park Service, Customs and Border Protection Field Operations, Customs and Border Protection Air & Marine Unit, and the U.S. Coast Guard. The Washington Air National Guard will be providing helicopter flights as well as an advanced mobile communications system. Contact: Cathy Watson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 425.941.4735, whatcomready.org
Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Auxiliary Communications Service
June 7 & 8: Communications with and between Federal, State, Local, and private organizations will be coordinated by the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Auxiliary Communications Service (WCSO ACS). The WCSO ACS will serve as the communications hub for the entire exercise, staffing the WUECC communications room, and providing remote satellite communications and situation updates throughout Whatcom County and the City of Bellingham via their communications van. Contact: Brian Lawler, email@example.com, whatcomready.org
Whatcom Unified Emergency Coordination Center (WUECC)
June 3, 6, & 8: Pre-exercise tours of the WUECC are available by appointment on June 3 and June 6. On the afternoon of June 8, the Whatcom Cascadia Rising Incident Management Team (IMT) will brief media on the initial lessons learned during the exercise (time/location TBD). NOTE: Media will not be allowed in the IMT portion of the WUECC during simulated operations on June 7 and 8, but will be kept informed as the exercise progresses by volunteers in the Joint Information Center. Contact: Cathy Watson, firstname.lastname@example.org, 425.941.4735, whatcomready.org
June 7 & 8: The Volunteer Mobilization Center (VMC) will set up in the WUECC the morning of June 7. On June 8, the VMC will simulate processing the hundreds of spontaneous volunteers who would show up to help after a large-scale disaster. They will practice screening, assessing special skills, handling background checks, reviewing safety procedures, and assigning volunteers to areas of the County as determined by the Sheriff’s Department. Contact: Jane Ringe, email@example.com, WhatcomVolunteer.org/Disaster
Whatcom Emergency Communications Group (WECG)
June 7 & 8: WECG amateur radio volunteers will staff the Search and Rescue radio room on Smith Road, acting as Net Control on several local amateur radio frequencies throughout most of the exercise. WECG volunteers will also provide communications support to Peace Health/St. Joseph Hospital and the American Red Cross. Contact: Jim McCabe, firstname.lastname@example.org, wecg.org
The Whatcom Unified Emergency Coordination Center is a partnership between the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management, the City of Bellingham Office of Emergency Management, and several local jurisdictions, organizations, and agencies.
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