Engineers support Catastrophe Response Exercise

| July 6, 2012 | 0 Comments
USACE-HD Emergency Power Planning and Response Team members gather for a photo outside their Deployable Tactical Operations System vehicle during Combined Response Mission Exercise Evergreen Quake 2012, held in Tacoma, Wash., recently. Pictured, from left, are Darin Aihara, Sean Sackett, David Taira, Paul Kai, Helene Takemoto, Michael Wong, Jason Tanaka, Wendy Mow and Marsha Phillips. (Photo Courtesy U.S. Corps of Engineers-Honolulu District Public Affairs)

USACE-HD Emergency Power Planning and Response Team members gather for a photo outside their Deployable Tactical Operations System vehicle during Combined Response Mission Exercise Evergreen Quake 2012, held in Tacoma, Wash., recently. Pictured, from left, are Darin Aihara, Sean Sackett, David Taira, Paul Kai, Helene Takemoto, Michael Wong, Jason Tanaka, Wendy Mow and Marsha Phillips. (Photo Courtesy U.S. Corps of Engineers-Honolulu District Public Affairs)

Angela Kershner
U.S. Corps of Engineers-Honolulu District Public Affairs

FORT SHAFTER — Several U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Honolulu District, or USACE-HD, employees participated in the Combined Response Mission Exercise Evergreen Quake 2012, held in Tacoma, Wash., recently.

The training focused on emergency management deployments.

The exercise simulated an emergency response to a significant earthquake in the Seattle area. The exercise involved local emergency managers, Washington state, Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 10, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

USACE participants included the 249th Engineer Battalion, USACE; Emergency Power Planning and Response Teams, or PRT, from Honolulu and Walla Walla, Wash., districts; and several subject-matter experts and evaluators.

Power PRTs work with the 249th Eng. Bn., contractors, and local and state entities to assess, install and maintain emergency generators at critical facilities throughout the affected area. These teams include specialists for contracting, liaisons, mission management, data management, logistics and quality assurance.

“The PRT is a group of volunteers who have completely different jobs during most of the year,” said Don Schlack, chemist, USACE-HD.

Schlack, who has deployed as a PRT member, served as an evaluator of the Walla Walla District PRT.

“When called up for an emergency, (PRTs) need to be able to use this training to solve issues that tend to come fast and hard,” Schlack said.

Evaluators provide the PRTs with scenarios and “injected” issues — problems and changes for them to handle. Injects range from detainment of contractors by law enforcement officials to a bridge collapse or a persistent reporter. These scenarios are drawn from actual experiences.

“It was really great being put in our role, in a real-life situation,” said Mike Wong, chief, Civil Works-Technical Branch, USACE-HD, and mission manager for one of the Honolulu District PRTs.

“In an exercise, you aren’t going to experience all of the possibilities, nor do you want to,” Wong said. “You have to be flexible in any situation in order to get the mission done.”

“The main purpose of Exercise Evergreen is to replicate the chaos, confusion and system failures, so PRT members are able to develop the extra skills necessary to cope with the situation they will be faced with in the field,” Schlack said.

Helene Takemoto, environmental protection specialist, USACE-HD, served as action officer for the exercise. Due to the amount of preparation done before the team departed Hawaii, the USACE-HD PRT was well prepared for every contingency presented to them.

“This team has done such an excellent job in supporting me as the action officer,” Takemoto said. “I think it’s a great team.”

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