Local, state agencies run through mock earthquake drill

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Emergency preparedness officials in Salt Lake City practiced their life-saving skills Tuesday.

The Drill kicked off when a mock earthquake with a magnitude of 9.2 shook Alaska.

“Nothing ever goes as planned so what we need to do today is to practice what would happen if the natural disaster service system was activated and we are receiving casualties,” said Steve Young, Director of the VA Medical Center.

The mock drill evacuated victims from the earthquake in Alaska – people were sent to places around the United States, including Salt Lake City, Young said.

Once the aircraft full of injured Alaskans landed, mannequins representing earthquake victims were taken and given medical assistance based on their injuries.

“Expect the unexpected. You never know, like people say, what’s going to walk through the door and we try to have our equipment ready to prepare for what we need,” said Jim Stritikus, Emergency Management Coordinator of the VA Hospital.

Twelve organizations from across the state came together for the mass earthquake drill. The exercise was designed to test the response of local and state authorities and their ability to work together during a disaster.

“It will make us better. We are going to be able to help the nation better if there is a natural disaster or, God forbid, a terrorist event. We’re going to be able to help absorb injured patients,” said Tim Huhtala, Primary Children’s Hospital.

This is one of the most elaborate exercises the national disaster medical system has. Seventeen other states across the nation did the exact same exercise, Tuesday, so they could also test and improve their preparedness.

“This operation is very good. I’m impressed. I’ve seen quite a few of them. Everybody seemed to have it together they’re working hard and getting done,” said John Probst, Communications Officer Ohio 5, of the SLC operation.