By James HackettMay 1, 2008
Emergency management officials in Umatilla, Morrow, and Benton counties, the states of Washington and Oregon and the Army's Umatilla Chemical Depot will hold an annual Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program drill May 5-7.
The drill will start on Monday, May 5, with a simulated chemical emergency at the Umatilla Chemical Depot and demonstrate emergency preparedness and recovery activities at the counties and two states surrounding the depot.
Unlike past years, this year's annual CSEPP exercise, called the Umatilla Vignette of the Pacific Northwest Venue of National Level 2-08, Service Response Force Exercise, will extend for three days. The first day will center on response activities and the following two days will focus on reentry and recovery activities.
Emergency planners increased the drill to three days because of the size and scope of the exercise linked to other test exercise events in the Northwest and nationally. A longer exercise will allow planners to focus on recovery issues as well. The other Pacific Northwest drills will be conducted in the Seattle and Bellingham, Wash., areas starting May 1.
During the early stages of the exercise, Morrow and Umatilla counties in Oregon and Benton County in Washington state will sound their public sirens and alert people through test exercise messages via tone alert radios and highway reader board messages, as well as providing Emergency Alert System messages to local radio and television stations. Highway advisory radio systems will also be used. The public may also see Oregon Army National Guard soldiers doing various exercise activities during those three days.
The exact time of the exercise start is not known. People are urged to pay attention to the sirens and the test exercise messages as part of their overall emergency preparedness. The public will hear Westminster chimes in Umatilla and Morrow counties in Oregon, and in Benton County, Wash., when the exercise begins.
Disaster planners will form groups such as the Multiagency Coordination Group and the Off-Site Coordination Center to handle the mock disaster. A Service Response Force commander appointed by the Army will also be in the area on the second and third days to assist local, state and federal officials in reentry and recovery activities.
The Joint Information Center, located on the top floor of the Umatilla County Criminal Justice Building, off I-84, Exit 207, will be activated to respond to mock public and media phone calls.
Federal, state and other observers will watch the drill and provide their comments on how the performance of the exercise players could be improved.
SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES
Media representatives may view portions of the exercise taking place with assistance from Army and the Federal Emergency Management Agency escorts, starting at the main gate of Umatilla Chemical Depot, Exit 177, I-84, just west of Hermiston, Ore., starting at 10:30 a.m.
There, media representatives will receive a briefing on the exercise scenario taking place and visit the depot Operations Center. Contact Jim Hackett, Umatilla Chemical Depot, at (541) 564-5418 by today,Wednesday, April 30, or Cheryl Seigal, FEMA, at (541) 310-8136 to make arrangements to cover the event.
To cover the Multiagency Coordination Group and the Off Site Coordination Center planning groups, contact Seigal and Hackett. Interviews may be arranged with the Service Response Force commander through Karen Drewen, acting Army Chemical Materials Agency Public Affairs Officer, (410) 436-3629.