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* News Release *
 
Friday, May 20, 2011
For Immediate Release

BCEO EMPLOYEES PARTICIPATE IN EMA EARTHQUAKE EXERCISE

Employees of the Butler County Engineer's Office participated in this week's earthquake exercise called "Shaken Horizons 11," coordinated by the Butler County Emergency Management Agency (EMA). Their role was to facilitate key transportation issues during the mock earthquake drill and to ensure that road and bridge structures were inspected for signs of damage. Several bridges did in fact have to be "closed" due to collapse or structural failure.

The event was Butler County's local response to a larger exercise that involved seven states, FEMA, the State of Ohio, and other southwest Ohio counties. This was one of the largest such exercises ever developed in the United States, according to Butler County EMA Director Jeff Galloway. Lasting for four days, the event actually ran day and night for the first 36 hours. The new Butler County Emergency Operations Center was tested for the first time in a full activation staffing 45 plus individuals fully trained and prepared for this type of large scale disaster.

Butler County Engineer Greg Wilkens encouraged his staff to participate in the earthquake exercise and spent many hours himself working the transportation ESF station (Emergency Support Function). Other ESFs included firefighting, law enforcement, water/sewer, medical, haz mat, communication, etc. "The role of the Engineer's Office in staffing the transportation ESF is a logical one given the issues that can develop with our road and bridge infrastructure during a natural disaster," Wilkens said. "This exercise was good practice as it allowed us first hand participation in the drill."

Responsibilities of BCEO employees working the transportation ESF station included: determining road damage status and which roads should be closed; mobilizing bridge inspection teams; mobilizing heavy equipment resources for debris cleaning; coordinating with state agencies for resources such as air and helicopter support; and, conferring with the FAA, airports, railroads, and Army Corps of Engineers.

The BCEO's Operations Deputy Scott Bressler served a slightly different function in the exercise by planning and calling in "injects," which are reports of problems such as large roadway cracks, collapsed buildings and bridges, and other issues resulting from the "earthquake." "It was an interesting and different perspective," he said. "And certainly we hope that nothing like this ever occurs in Butler County, but we feel that our local EMA has done an outstanding job of orchestrating this drill in an effort to better prepare us for the possibility."

# # #

For more information contact:

Chris Petrocy, BCEO Public Information Supervisor
Greg Wilkens, P.E., P.S., Butler County Engineer
Phone 513.867.5744 • Fax 513.867.5849


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