Drill trains emergency responders in case of massive earthquake

The Department of Emergency and Military Affairs tested statewide agencies in an earthquake drill (Photo by Wafa Shahid/Cronkite News)

The Department of Emergency and Military Affairs, also knowns as DEMA, tested statewide agencies in an earthquake drill simulating a 7.0 earthquake north of Paulden in Yavapai County on Wednesday.

DEMA’s Public Information Officer Judy Kioski helped organize the event.

“We want to make sure that any of the agencies that would respond have a chance to know who their counterparts are,” Kioski said.

DEMA started planning this event back in January, basically looking at possible hazards that can happen in Arizona and developing an exercise based on that.

“It’s just a coincidence that we just had the earthquake just a few days ago,” Kioski said.

One component of emergency response are the teams who are behind the scenes, working logistics. Another component of emergency response are the first responders who go out and execute the rescue plan.

“First thing we want to do is do an assessment, is there anyone who’s trapped?” Kioski said. “Is there anyone that would need assistance that way.”

The 91st Civil Support Team (CST) set up tents at the military base in order to work closely with first responders. Agencies like the Phoenix Fire Department were at the event, learning about what to do in the event that a chemical spill happens at the scene of a disaster.

“No matter what the triggering event is, whether it’s an earthquake or fire or flood, there are some very similar things that need to happen, there’s usually critical infrastructure that could be damaged,” said Kioski. “It could be cell towers that are down, roads that are closed. Sometimes there’s people that need to be sheltered. So, things like that, no matter what the disaster, that’s kind of a common thing. So even though it’s an earthquake drill, by doing this today, it helps us be prepared for other disasters that can occur.”

Kioski mentioned that this annual event can help assist in other natural disasters like possible flooding from El Niño.