Pierce County to practice for the Big One

Pierce County Emergency Management and its partners will participate in a two-day, multi-county earthquake exercise beginning June 5.

More than 22 Pierce County cities, towns, departments and organizations will exercise their emergency response plans to a “pretend” 7.1 Magnitude earthquake on the Tacoma Fault. Dubbed “Operation Pine Cone,” the Pierce County exercise is part of a larger six-county exercise called “Evergreen Quake,” which includes King, Kitsap, Pierce, Skagit, Snohomish and Thurston counties, as well as multiple tribal, state and federal agencies. The beginning of the exercise starts 24 hours after the first earthquake hits the Puget Sound area.

“Pierce County participates in emergency exercises every year to keep staff trained and systems up to date,” said Emergency Management Director Steve Bailey. “The Operation Pine Cone and Evergreen Quake exercises are a rare opportunity for a large number of partners to practice interdependencies and communications that will be the backbone of an effective response to a catastrophic event.”

The Pierce County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will be activated for both days of the exercise and will respond as if a catastrophic earthquake struck the region. Other participating agencies include: the Mount Rainier Chapter of the American Red Cross, the City of Lakewood, Law Enforcement Support Agency (LESA), Clover Park Technical College, Pierce County Citizen Corps Council, Franciscan Health Care, MultiCare, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, Puyallup Emergency Management, and several fire, school and water districts. Numerous Pierce County departments will be testing their continuity-of-operations plans. Some partners have already conducted tabletop exercises leading up to this major exercise.