Disaster exercises instill competence and confidence.
Practice, practice, practice ... it is something that we don't do enough of in the world of state and local emergency management. In my military experience, we sometimes went "to the field" to do what civilians would call "war games" every week. That was at Fort Hood, Texas, and then a place called Wildflicken in Germany. When you do something over and over, you get much better at executing the basics.
With the above in mind, it was good to see this story, Earthquake simulation sets the stage for emergency response training.
Curry Mayer is the emergency management director there and she is quoted in the article. I'm sure the earthquake exercise was instigated by her. Note, Curry is also the current chair of the King County Emergency Management Advisory Committee and chair of the Critical Infrastructure Committee that is part of EMAC.
I don't know this for sure, but I'll bet that the last large-scale earthquake exercise that Bellevue participated in was Cascadia Rising 2016. The next multi-state earthquake exercise like it will be Cascadia Rising 2022. The infrequency of larger regional earthquake exercises leads to people not having the experience of being trained and tested in a large event.
When I was director for King County Office of Emergency Management, we had a whole succession of disasters and other events. WTO Riots, annual floods, windstorms, snowstorms, Y2K, earthquake exercises, etc. The frequency of the trainings, exercises and events provided for a great deal of continuity in responding to disasters. When the Nisqually earthquake happened in 2001, everyone knew, first to come to the Emergency Coordination Center and when they arrived, they were familiar with the operations of the facility and had the interpersonal relationships already established in order to be more effective.
If you are a regular Disaster Zone TV watcher, my next show is going to be with Curry Mayer, so watch for the program coming in the next couple of weeks. One of the things we'll chat about is the exercise they held above, and also her experience working in California in the emergency management profession there.