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LEPC 101: Las Vegas Prepares for Earthquake Response

The members of the Apex Industrial Area Emergency Response Group and representatives from many of the local industries as well as Clark County Fire, Nevada Highway Patrol, North Las Vegas Fire, Las Vegas Fire, Nevada Department of Transportation, and the National Weather Service participated in an earthquake tabletop exercise. The purpose of the tabletop was to discuss how such an event would affect those working in the Apex area and how they would respond. Additionally, it explored what kind of help they could expect from professional agencies such as the police and fire departments and how they can help each other.

The exercise scenario assumed a magnitude 6.6 earthquake occurred along the Frenchman Mountain Fault. Damages included compromised roadways, structural collapses, ruptured water lines, and downed transmission towers. Emergency response services were quickly overloaded.

The assessment from the first responders was sobering. If such an event occurred, Fire and Police would operate under a different mode prioritization and prudent use of resources would be paramount.

The people who worked at the plants in the Apex area would have to rely upon themselves for several days, if not longer.

Use of Emergency Operation Centers (the closest is managed by North Las Vegas) would be most effective. A representative could be sent to act as a liaison for those still at the plants. This would help assure that their needs are met while not burdening the public communication system.

The general discussion revealed the need to develop an emergency communication channel. This could be CB Radio, push to talk phones, a common walky-talky radio, or just a runner. However, this means it is vital that the various businesses have a way to check on each other and offer assistance. Adding to that capability would be the knowledge of what services, supplies, and equipment each company had available. Developing a comprehensive list that is updated frequently would be very helpful.

The exercise concluded with a number of suggestions for future tabletops. Flash floods, brush fires, hazardous spills, chemical releases, and biohazards were all mentioned. Most participants agreed that the events should be held at least twice a year if not more frequently.

The Las Vegas Valley Earthquake Tabletop Exercise Situation Manual is provided for your review and use for future earthquake preparedness exercises.  

Authors Robert Hanus is the Combined Cycle Operator at the Chuck Lenzie Generating Station and Joe Sabo is a Mine Geologist/Mine Rescue Team Coordinator at the Lhoist North America - Apex Plant.

If your emergency response agency, LEPC and/or local fire department participates in hazmat or incident related tabletops, we would like to hear from you and share your experiences with others. Please email the Hazmat Fusion Center at hazmatfc@iafc.org if interested.

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