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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Area emergency personnel train for disaster scenario

  • Dozens of emergency service personnel from Phelps, Maries, Dent and Crawford counties came together Tuesday morning at the Phelps County Courthouse for a day-long training session on how to handle a real-life disaster situation.
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  • Dozens of emergency service personnel from Phelps, Maries, Dent and Crawford counties came together Tuesday morning at the Phelps County Courthouse for a day-long training session on how to handle a real-life disaster situation.
    In this case, the scenario was a 7.7-magnitude earthquake that struck in the New Madrid Seismic Zone at around 7:30 a.m. Monday June 16.
    An estimated 2.2 million Missourians had been affected, and 30,000 people were displaced and are seeking shelter. A total of 686 people have been confirmed dead, and there have been approximately 13,000 injuries.
    According to Ron Smith, assistant fire chief with the City of Rolla Fire and Rescue, Tuesday's exercise was designed to test the ability of a variety of regions in Missouri to identify, dispatch and mobilize critical resources.
    "Not only is there a 911 emergency presence here but also Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) is here as well as representatives from agricultural departments and the American Red Cross among other agencies," said Smith. "We are going to have hundreds of people coming to our area to be fed, need to be attended to medically and sheltered."
    With that in mind, emergency service personnel were monitoring banks of laptops that gave critical information on what was happening around the region as well as giving updates of what was occurring in their own localities.
    Brett Hendrix is the Region 1 coordinator for the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) which includes Phelps County as well as a number of neighboring counties.
    "Emergency situations start at the local level," he said. "We try to take care of it at that level first. One thing we want to make sure we have is redundancy; making sure that we have radios and communications systems backed-up on all levels."
    Ken Ramsey, director of emergency management for Maries County, said that while nothing like Tuesday's scenario has hit the area in the past, his response team has had to deal with an ice storm that hit the area in 2007 and flooding that devastated the area in August of 2013.
    He noted that various groups have had "tabletop-training" on these kind of scenarios which have been more related to how systems and software works, but nothing like a "live scenario" on such a large scale has been done before.
    "Despite a few glitches here and there," Ramsey said, "this has gone very smoothly. We can never to be too prepared."

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