The Cascadia Rising Exercise is over and Grays Harbor Emergency Management says it turned out to be a great teaching platform for not only local communities but for military response units assigned to participate in the exercise.
They say numerous communication barriers were uncovered between military units and the County Emergency Coordination Center, (ECC) but because Amateur Radio Operators from Grays Harbor County and the radio operators from the military and County Central Services personnel were able to meet face to face, solutions were found which will speed communications with response agencies and the State Emergency Operations Center.
Without this exercise they would have been hindered in their ability to get assistance for all jurisdictions of the county.
In the County Emergency Coordination Center (ECC), much of a true life event took place with a communications blackout in effect for the first few hours along with minimal staffing on day one.
The week also provided a platform for many jurisdictions to send representatives to train in a working ECC under the pressures of a true event.
Emergency Management says the two joint Military and local Search and Rescue Exercises held at the Satsop Development Park and at North Beach High School in Ocean Shores, became extraordinary teaching platforms for our Grays Harbor Volunteer Search & Rescue Teams including the West Coast Search Dogs and Search Dogs from Washington Task Force -1 of the FEMA Urban Search & Rescue Program.
A Hazardous Material Decontamination Exercise took place at the Port of Grays Harbor at the Westway Facility and was attended by many fire districts and a Military Decontamination Company.
Over the two day exercise, Grays Harbor Community Hospital and Summit Pacific Medical Center also participated with their Decontamination Units.
After nearly four years in the making, Cascadia Rising is over, and Emergency Management says the hard part begins now.
They say answers to questions will only be answered with continued and necessary diligence by every one of us.
We must sustain the coordination, cooperation and learning we obtained during the exercise last week and move forward, proactively, into the next stage of preparedness.