County will hold disaster drill Saturday

February 24, 2014

SCOTTVILLE – On Saturday, March 1, a comprehensive full-scale disaster exercise will be held in Mason County in cooperation with the National Weather Service Office in Grand Rapids and Verizon Wireless. In addition to all of the traditional emergency response agencies, Oakview Medical Care Facility staff will also be participating in the field level response component of this exercise. The Mason County Emergency Operations Center will perform the role of overall coordination for the exercise scenario.

The purpose of the exercise is to test local County Emergency Operations Center’s capabilities to communicate, coordinate, and exchange information during a catastrophic disaster. An emergency operations center, or EOC, is a central command and control facility responsible for carrying out the principles of emergency preparedness and disaster management functions at a strategic level in an emergency situation. The EOC represents the jurisdiction’s highest level of coordination and is staffed by the jurisdiction’s highest-ranking officials, allowing it to make high-level policy decisions and emergency protective actions.

Additionally, a full-scale exercise requires a field level exercise component be conducted at the same time the EOC is operational. Mason County is required to conduct a full-scale exercise once every 5 years, if there has been no qualifying disaster. The field level exercise component will be conducted at the West Shore Educational Services Building in Scottville. The participating emergency responders will be charged with managing a large incident scene utilizing the Incident Command System and established departmental protocols and procedures.

Full-scale exercises test, among other things, the county’s emergency operations plan, the local emergency response agencies response to a disaster situation, the communication between command and coordination entities, and enhances the cooperative spirit of the private sector and emergency preparedness agencies during a disaster. The involvement of private sector agencies and local emergency preparedness officials in a comprehensive exercise is necessary to perfect the close coordination and cooperation that is necessary for a successful execution of an emergency operations plan in an actual emergency.

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