Crestview Fire Department localizes hurricane excercise

Posted: June 3, 2012 at 1:16 pm

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Crestview firefighters not only monitored the progress of a fictitious category 3 hurricane, they threw a few unexpected twists into the countys annual hurricane planning exercise that sent participants hunkered down in the county Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Niceville scrambling.

Technically a hurrex, or hurricane exercise, Hurricane Gispert (named for an emergency planner in Hillsborough County) was modeled on 1998s Hurricane Georges. That storms severe flooding rendered Crestview an island cut off from surrounding communities.

Crestview Fire Department veterans Battalion Chief Tony Holland and Assistant Chief Ralph Everage were on duty during Georges. When Randy McDaniel, chief of Okaloosa Countys Emergency Management department, asked Crestview emergency responders to join the Hurrex Gispert exercise, their first-hand experience proved invaluable.

Randy had asked for some input from Crestview, Everage explained. He wanted something other than a coastal component and asked for some input from us.

We wanted them to consider what they could possibly need in the city shortfalls they would have in a flooding event, making us jump through the hoops to find those things for them, McDaniel said.

As the virtual storm approached at 8 a.m. May 24, Holland and Everage logged into WebEOC, an Internet-based communications system used by emergency management agencies throughout the county. The system is also linked to the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee, which monitored the states local Gispert exercises.

Using their experience from past storms, Holland and Everage devised injects, or storm-related emergency situation scenarios, and entered them into WebEOC.

As the storm buffeted the region, Holland entered, In the area of (State Road) 85 and (U.S. Highway) 90 there are power lines down and the traffic light is on the ground.

The scenario and others from neighboring agencies flowed into the system. County Emergency Management staff prioritized the incidents and assigned them to various emergency services function (ESF) organizations.

ESFs include county and municipal public works offices, fire and search-and-rescue units, the Red Cross and Salvation Army, public utilities, the military, law enforcement agencies, municipal governments, the county health department, and animal control.

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Crestview Fire Department localizes hurricane excercise

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June 3rd, 2012 at 1:16 pm

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