GLASGOW – The scenario is that a 7.7 magnitude earthquake strikes along the Cottonwood Grove Fault, the southwest segment of the New Madrid Seismic Zone, in southeastern Arkansas, near Memphis, Tennessee. It affects all six of the states around the impact zone to varying degrees.
The situation is just pretend for now, but it's part of a preparation effort the Federal Emergency Management Agency was conducting from May 29 through Friday with a a series of tabletop, functional and full-scale exercises called Shaken Fury 2019 in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Northern Command, state and local governments and the private sector.
The purpose was to evaluate and improve the response to such a no-notice earthquake.
The earthquake hits at 11:33 a.m. It devastates Memphis and severely affects Kentucky's western 24 counties. Barren County is fortunate in this scenario, as people here feel the ground shaking but have no reports of fatalities, injuries or major damage.
The question that Glasgow-Barren County Emergency Management officials and volunteers considered Wednesday was what local resources could be designated to help our neighbors to the west. The discussion was part of the local EM's Emergency Support Functions meeting.
A series of questions was posed, starting with listing some of the initial actions that would be taken in the community to provide mutual aid support. Tracy Shirley, director of Glasgow-Barren County Emergency Management, said that once he had ascertained that this county was in good shape, the first thing he would be doing is contacting Gary Fancher, his regional representative with Kentucky Emergency Management, to find out what is needed with which Barren Countians can help.
He said he felt that some of the individual emergency agencies also would be touching base with their counterparts they know in that area to see what they need.
He asked Garland Gilliam, an operations manager for Barren-Metcalfe County Emergency Medical Services, what resources the ambulance service could send. He said that, depending on what's going on here, two trucks with two people each and two people with the mass casualty trailer would probably be the maximum. Shirley asked whether it would be better to send one truck with four people, and they could rotate their shifts, but Gilliam said, using response to Hurricane Katrina as an example, they will typically rotate the personnel who arrive, and the EMS crew spent 12 hours working, 12 hours off and they slept in the ambulance.
Shirley then made the rounds, asking the law enforcement and other agencies' representatives what they could send. The discussion included buses from school systems, medical supplies from the health department and miscellaneous supplies from The Salvation Army, etc.
Other questions explored included the quantity of resources available, which had mostly been explored as the first question was addressed; whether resources were “mission-ready packaged,” and most were not; whether resources were prepared to be self-sustaining for 72 hours and what logistical support would be required beyond the first 72 hours.
Kentucky EM has a few dozen pallets of ready-to-go meals on hand at any given time and has a contract for more to be provided, Fancher said.
Part of the discussion centered around the fact that bridges may be out between here and the troubled areas as well, which could hamper efforts to get supplies and people there to help, and cell phone towers may be down, or at least not working properly, affecting communications.
Shirley said they also need
Finally, the importance of the need for tracking and documenting time and other costs of resources stemmed from the last question.