What would you do?
A simulated earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 strikes southeast Idaho, northern Utah and southwest Wyoming at 8:40 a.m. The epicenter is just east of Bear Lake near the Idaho/Utah border. Less than 30 minutes later, Newberry Crater in central Oregon comes to life in an 8:05 a.m. (PDT) fictitious eruption that sends ash plumes 85,000 feet into the air and drifts northeast across Oregon into Washington.
Before the dust settles, according to the fabricated scenario, an aftershock with a magnitude of 7.1 rocks the northern areas of the earlier quake. The 12:53 p.m. (MDT) sequel is centered about two miles northeast of Afton, Wyo.
Participants met this week at Grand Targhee Resort west of Driggs to map out a strategy of coping with a potential regional disaster. Six state transportation departments (Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Wyoming) and a number of federal agencies were involved in the training exercise, including:
The U.S. Geological Survey, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Highway Administration, Department of the Interior (National Park Service), U.S. Coast Guard, and Transport Canada.
It was all part of Cascade Fury II, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, FEMA and the Idaho Transportation Department. The joint emergency transportation exercise drew approximately 130 participants from throughout the Northwest and federal representatives from Washington, D.C.
Nearly one-third of the participants represented ITD, including director Dave Ekern who provided opening remarks Tuesday and District 1 Engineer L. Scott Stokes. Most of ITDs districts and Headquarters joined in the emergency planning process.
Like generals in a war room, transportation officials planned a strategy to deploy personnel and equipment, protect infrastructures, close hazardous routes and assist with life/safety issues. It required regional cooperation and collaboration along a number of transportation fronts, including highways, rail and air.
The purpose of the exercise, according to organizers,
was to build partnerships and promote teamwork for regional transportation
emergencies, to focus on relationships among states, federal government
and private industry, and to use a number of information products.