‘Big One’ drills help Oregonians prepare for quake

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) –- Exercises aimed at helping first responders prepare for a major earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone are being held across Oregon this week.

More than 20,000 people are participating in the Cascadia Rising program to help determine the most effective ways to react within the first 4 days following a big quake.

U.S. Air Force Reserve Lt. Colonel John Graver spent Tuesday practicing for worst case scenarios along with Portland Fire & Rescue and the Army Guard.

“You know there’s going to be some kind of chemical spills, you know there’s going to be some kind of bridge collapse so you are going to have to extricate or get people out of situations,” Graver told KOIN 6 News.

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management predicts a 9.0 magnitude quake in the Cascadia Subduction Zone will impact more than 15 million people. Five thousand will likely die as a result of the disaster, and more than a million will be in need of food.

A couple walks hand in hand past one of many tsunami evacuation route signs in Cannon Beach, Ore., Friday, April 1, 2005. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Governor Kate Brown addressed the issue Tuesday morning, saying homes should be “stocked with food, water and critical items to help them sustain extended periods of time without electricity or plumbing.”

Exactly how first responders act after an earthquake will vary depending on location. An impending tsunami along the Oregon coast is regarded as the most complex disaster scenario that emergency and public safety officials are planning for.

The City of Yachats and the Yachats Rural Fire Protection District will participate in the drill Friday by having homeowners and businesses evacuate to high ground.

Exercises involving mass casualty treatment, rooftop extraction, rope and collapsed space rescue operations will take place throughout the week. Citizens will likely see helicopters, ambulances, military equipment, police and fire vehicles involved in what may look like active emergency situations while the training takes place.

“Cascadia Rising will assess plans, processes, and our ability to communicate and coordinate to help to ensure that our emergency response partners across the region are working effectively and efficiently to protect lives, property and the environment during a catastrophic disaster,” OEM Director Andrew Phelps said. “Specifically, it’s an opportunity to provide decision makers with information to implement programs and policies that allocate and manage resources efficiently with urgency during a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami, and other disasters.”

Training exercises will be conducted June 7-9 from 9:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.

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