Preparing for Disaster

By Joelyn Hansen

My boyfriend jokingly asked me last night if I was going to play “Dungeons and Dragons” for a third day at work. I laughed and said yes.

Now, I’m not really playing “Dungeons and Dragons”, but what he’s referring to is my latest participation in the disaster response table top exercise.

For the last three days, I, along with other government and emergency response representatives, have been training with the Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security in a role-play scenario to determine our weaknesses and our strengths when it comes to responding to a disaster. In case you’re wondering, we have more strengths then weaknesses.

In this scenario fortunately we aren’t slaying purple dragons or goblins, but instead we’ve been determining how to best handle a sizable earthquake in eastern Idaho.
Each of the individuals involved in the exercise have roles as policy makers, emergency responders, public information officers in determining how to handle overall response, evacuations, mass care and dissemination of information.

As a public information officer my focus was on how I, along with the other PIOs, would work with the emergency responders in getting accurate and timely information out to the public.

Though, by the third day, I’ll admit I’m a bit tired of working over the same scenario, however, it’s important we have a good handle on disaster response. If anything, the problems that occurred after Hurricane Katrina have taught the masses the need to be organized and prepared.

The exercise has also taught me that not only responders need to be ready, but the general public does too. So, I’ll end this post with this question – How prepared are you for disaster?