Earthquake program coordinators from Oregon and Washington in coordination with CREW have finished work with hundreds of first responders and emergency management professionals in crafting a new strategy on how to effectively implement earthquake early warning systems when the strategy eventually goes public in the Pacific Northwest.
The 45-page strategy is being released today and gives a path forward for state and local governments in Oregon and Washington to contribute to the successful implementation of ShakeAlert preparedness activities. The key will be to make sure first responders have the same training and are given clearly defined roles and responsibilities. There also needs to be staff support to ensure everyone is on the same page.
The ShakeAlert system detects earthquakes and rapidly disseminates warnings to end users in potentially affected areas. ShakeAlert is currently operating as a prototype in California, Oregon and Washington. Partners, like the University of Oregon, University of Washington and the U.S. Geological Survey (UGSG), are exploring ways for the public to receive warnings in the future.
The vision calls for a fully-developed and tested ShakeAlert system that detects earthquakes and disseminates warnings to end users with public alerts that integrate with organizational systems and processes, such as utilities that automatically shut off or doors to fire stations that lift up on their own. The ultimate goal is for a broad understanding and acceptance of ShakeAlert capabilities and limitations – and the funding to make it all happen.
Washington and Oregon based the goals, objectives and activities in the strategy on input from more than 100 state, tribal, local emergency managers and more than 300 community members, including many who have had training as part of Community Emergency Response Teams. The federal government provided funding to develop the strategy.
“Oregon and Washington state, tribal, local, and business partners have spent months collaborating on this strategy,” said Maximilian Dixon, earthquake program manager for the Washington’s Emergency Management Division and CREW Vice President. “It is our roadmap to reach stakeholders and to educate the public on actions to take when they get a ShakeAlert.”
Key strategy recommendations include having dedicated staff to coordinate training sessions with public safety and emergency management officials on earthquake early warning and partnering with existing preparedness efforts, such as The Great Washington ShakeOut, which is the third Thursday in October.
The strategy also calls for the development of specific earthquake early warning preparedness education and training materials to ensure the public understands the importance of drop, cover & hold on as a protective action when an earthquake occurs.
As part of its recent budget bill, Congress allocated $22.9 million in funding last week for the continued development of the ShakeAlert system. However, none of that funding is currently designated for state- or local-level education, training and outreach on ShakeAlert or Earthquake Early Warning preparedness.