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Thurston County Connection
Thurston County Connection
September, 2014
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Back-to-School Safety 101:

Hope for the Best…..Prepare for the Worst!

Telephone Alerts Available for Flooding Hazards

The War on Food Waste

Little Red School House Drive a Big Success!

A Herd of Folks at the Thurston County Fair

Making it in the Dry Years

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 Emergency Responders Practice for the Big One

Drill tests emergency plans and personnel

It’s early one spring morning; an earthquake off the Washington coast sends a wall of water toward the shore. Thousands of area residents are advised to move inland for refuge from the tsunami. That was the scenario for a recent emergency management drill for the five counties in Homeland Security Region Three- Thurston, Lewis, Mason, Grays Harbor and Pacific.

The designers of the exercise spent months putting together a realistic situation that would test the region’s ability to handle the influx of evacuees and the resulting pressures on police and fire agencies, local governments, emergency managers, The American Red Cross and other responders. In addition, they included unusual situations to deal with, such as a hostage situation on an area bus.

Participating Agencies Included-

  • The Thurston County Sheriff’s Office,
  • Homeland Security Region Three Incident Management Team,
  • Lewis County Incident Management Team,
  • Lewis County Emergency Management,
  • Thurston County Emergency Management,
  • Area Law Enforcement and Fire Agencies,
  • Thurston County Medic One
  • 9-1-1 Communications Dispatch Centers from Thurston, Pacific, Mason, Grays Harbor and Lewis Counties and several other organizations.


Jesi Chapin, who is Homeland Security Region Three Coordinator, says drills such as this one, are a way to measure the preparedness level of the various agencies involved. “We occasionally need to put some artificial stress on ourselves to test our policies and procedures to see how affective they might be when the real emergency happens. We can discover what works and what doesn’t and change things so we can react better in the future.”

Some of the goals of the exercise were to-
  • Evaluate the information and technology systems in the participating Homeland Security Region 3 Emergency Coordination Centers.
  • Demonstrate the use of the Incident Command System by the Lewis County Incident Management Team for an emergency event.
  • Evaluate the ability of the Homeland Security Region Three Management Team to establish a remote incident command post and begin operations within 2 hours of initial call out.
  • Activate and assess the Thurston County Mass Casualty Incident Plan.


Participants in the drill will now work together to assess the exercise. Out of that process will come suggestions for improvements that will be incorporated into policies and plans to better manage the next disaster or emergency and to provide timely and appropriate services to area residents.

If you would like information to better prepare your family for emergencies, please visit the Thurston County Emergency Management Web Site

By John Tennis

A simulated bus crash is part of the drill. A simulated bus crash is part of the drill.

The Incident Command Post for the exercise. The Incident Command Post for the exercise.