D.C. tests emergency prepardness in citywide drill
(AP, TBD) - The District of Columbia hosted a city-wide natural disaster exercise Wednesday. First responders and agencies trained for a scenario in which a Category 2 hurricane makes landfall in D.C.
Millicent West of D.C. homeland security said the scenario was not very likely, “but we wanted to make sure we made it something that could happen but a little more extreme. We wanted to push ourselves a bit.”
The simulated disaster will take place at RFK Stadium in southeast Washington. Inside the stadium, the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, the Red Cross and the D.C. National Guard set up a simulated shelter.
“We don't want another superdome scenario to work itself out here. So we've worked out relationships with the downtown bid, the hotel association, the Verizon Center, the convention center, that if we do need to do a mega shelter that we don't have something like we did in New Orleans,” West said.
Dummy represented victims in a building collapse. D.C. firefighters used specially
trained k-9s to find victims, as well as tools that can track heat and sound.
“We can listen and hear and try to triangulate where they might be,” explained Sgt. Christopher Holmes, a special operations firefighter.
While the exercise comes shortly after Hurricane Irene swept across the region, it’s been planned for a year.
Staff from the medical examiner's office set up a temporary morgue and the health department was responsible for an emergency animal shelter.
“Our role here is to complement the human sheltering side of things and to make sure that people know that if disaster happens, there's a place where they will be safe and where their pets will be safe,” Molly Lunaris of the health department said.
The exercise was meant to gauge the district's ability to give out bulk quantities of medicine and vaccinations, shelter and feed large quantities of people and successfully communicate through radio, among other capabilities.
The drill included agencies not traditionally involved in emergency preparedness, such as the Office on Aging, the Department of Corrections and staff that deal with non-English speaking residents. Additional drills are planned for spring and fall of 2012.
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