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
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."