FEMA Region X conducts preparedness exercise in Alaska

The Federal Emergency Management Agency announced last week that it will contribute to a full-scale emergency response exercise this week to test the federal government's ability to respond to major disasters in Alaska.

Alaska Shield 2014 is the largest of a series of exercises that will take place in FEMA Region X. The exercise, which will begin on March 27, will test the plans and actions of FEMA, the state of Alaska, private sector companies, territorial governments, non-governmental organizations, international partners and academic institutions.

If a large earthquake or other disaster were to occur in Alaska, particularly during the winter, it would require a different type of response than most areas of the U.S.

"We do not know when the next earthquake or tsunami will take place, but it will depend on our collective and individual preparedness to reduce our vulnerability." Ken Murphy, the regional administrator for FEMA, said. "It is imperative that we work together in advance of an event to make sure that all of our systems are working together smoothly and seamlessly."

The exercise will coincide with the 50th anniversary of a major earthquake in Alaska in 1964. The earthquake simulation will disrupt Alaska's essential services, making it hard for communities to obtain outside assistance, but will still allow life safety activities to continue.

FEMA runs full-scale exercises to test plans and actions during the initial response phase of a disaster. The exercises test the ability of state, local and federal officials to stabilize the situation and meet immediate needs during a significant disruptive event so that recovery efforts may begin.