Simulating disaster to stay resilient

A fire truck responds to a structure fire in Ashland (Georgia Lawson/News 10)

The City of Ashland has been scaling up efforts to prepare their citizens when disaster strikes.

Ashland Fire & Rescue and the National Academy of Sciences hosted a disaster simulation Friday, where residents could see first hand how they would withstand a major emergency. It was one event in a larger picture of preparedness and urgency emerging across Ashland.

However, with limited fire, medical, and enforcement personnel, a successful community response depends on the community members.

"Oregon is an all-hazard state, so overall, all of the natural disaster can occur within the state in some geographic location," said Terri Eubanks, Ashland Community Preparedness Coordinator.

When it comes to Ashland, major hazards include fire, earthquakes, and flooding, meaning there is a year-round threat hanging over the city.

"There's no more time to prepare, it's time to respond," said Keri Stoever, Program Officer for the emergency simulation team from the National Academy of Sciences.

Participants in today's simulation were dealt a heavy storm, and had to allocate resources to protect their communities.

Some groups weathered the impacts better than others, but everyone came across challenges, including resource deficits and communication challenges, among others. However, that fit well within the goal: making people and agencies think about problems now, before disaster hits.

"If you've sort of prepared what you're going to do in those instances, you're going to feel much better, and you're going to be more resilient," Eubanks said.

This is the first time Ashland has held this training, and comes as the city bulks up other efforts to prepare for the worst.

The city is in the process of building a new coalition of stakeholders, such as hospitals, schools, and other large local groups. They are also revising the evacuation plans that would determine how residents find safety if they needed to leave at a moments notice. In addition, forest management work continues in the wilderness surrounding the urban center.

With fire season around the corner, the hope is that these skills wont be needed, but if they are, Eubanks said the city is better prepared than ever.

Another simulation will be held Saturday March 16th at 10 a.m. To register, email terri.eubanks@ashland.or.us to reserve a spot.

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