The Hoquiam Police Department conducted a jail evacuation drill Thursday morning in conjunction with the state’s week-long Cascadia Rising earthquake and tsunami exercise.
The Hoquiam Police Department says that all the city and state DOC probation inmates in custody within the City Jail are their responsibility, and the evacuation of the jail is a very relevant exercise.
In the case of a major earthquake and possible tsunami, HPD staff and inmates will evacuate to “high ground”.
So long as the inmates are in custody, arrangements have to be made to safely secure and transport them.
With the close proximity of Swanson’s right next door, HPD has made arrangements to “borrow” a U-Haul truck to transport inmates and supplies from the jail to the assembly area at Sunset Memorial Park.
Hoquiam Police say the drill tested their ability to safely secure the inmates, segregate females from males and make ready to transport them all to high ground.
Although they did not actually leave the parking lot, they did get a good idea of how long it takes to move, cuff and secure all of their 26 prisoners that were in custody at the time.
Police says they were able to clear the entire jail population in just 22 minutes and it would likely be even faster in a real emergency because they would not take the time to search each inmate as they came out of the cell blocks.
Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers says they were very grateful for the assistance of a portion of a local Military Police National Guard unit.
Their personnel assisted with security during the evacuation drill as well as additional manpower.
Although the National Guard would not be present at the start of a major disaster, their assistance during the course of the event or recovery from the event would be critical.
Myers says the participation of the MPs was outstanding and it also turned out to be great training for their personnel.
Myers says he has the greatest of respect for our fellow Washingtonians who volunteer to serve their country and their community as members of the state National Guard.
Once all the inmates were removed from the facility and were being guarded outside, it gave the department a unique opportunity to conduct a full top-to-bottom jail shake-down.
With the assistance of the MPs, they checked every bunk, all clothing and mattresses, vents, plumbing, light fixtures, doors, walls and windows.
Myers says he cannot thank the National Guard enough for their service and their assistance in this drill.