posted on May, 21 2011 @ 12:28 PM
(Springfield, MO) -- If a major earthquake occurs along the New Madrid Fault in eastern Missouri, emergency responders in Springfield say they'll be
With the help of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, some of those responders prepared to care for victims during a drill at Springfield-Branson
Regional Airport Thursday.
FEMA says after a quake, those injured would likely be brought to the Ozarks.
The agency wants medical professionals and other responders to know what to do if large numbers of people were brought here for care.
During the drill, mannequins stood in for the victims, but those treatment them said they took the exercise seriously.
FEMA's Region 7 Coordinator Beth Freeman said, "This level of exercise allows us to bring people together who may not know each other...and that's
so important when there's a catastrophic event to know who your partners are going to be, to be able to work with them. You don't have to waste time
getting to know each other."
While local emergency managers say this is the first time they've worked with FEMA in this type of operation, it appears that everything went well.
Virtually all Missouri agencies that would have a role to play in a significant natural disaster -- from the National Guard to the Highway Patrol to
the Department of Natural Resources -- are taking part in what is a essentially a disaster dress rehearsal coordinated by the Federal Emergency
States from Louisiana to Michigan are all taking part in the disaster training, but Missouri is one of the most heavily involved states, with the
epicenter of the hypothetical quake located in New Madrid, Mo.
Ninety-nine of the state's 114 counties are taking part in the activities, with local police, firefighters and sheriff's deputies taking an active
role in the exercise.
The simulation of a catastrophic earthquake in the central United States is taking place during the bicentennial anniversary year of the 1811 New
Madrid earthquake, a seismic event so powerful it caused the Mississippi River to flow backwards.
The New Madrid Seismic Zone isnamed for the event. FEMA annually performs these kinds of national disaster scenarios, but this the first in several
years that has dealt with a natural disaster rather than a terrorist attack.
The major goal of the exercise is to look for weaknesses in supply and personnel distribution throughout the state. In addition to an internal review
by the state, FEMA will release its own evaluation of Missouri's performance later this year.
In addition to responding to the earthquake itself, throughout the week emergency managers are expected to contend with "injections."
These injections are smaller, secondary emergency scenarios that crop up unexpectedly as consequences of the initial earthquake. They could include
everything from a bridge collapse to a prison escape.
Missouri also finds itself with another added challenge, not scripted by the feds. The counties that would be hardest hit by the hypothetical quake
are still winding down their response to the real flooding that occurred last month along the Mississippi River.
This drills continues through Thursday. When they're over, officials will take a look at the things that didn't work, so they have a better plan in
place when an actual disaster happens.
(Tim Sampson with Missouri News Horizon contributed to this article)