Pierce, Kitsap counties team up for emergency drill

A construction crew has been creating chaos near Bremerton, building a pile of rubble that will challenge elite Puget Sound search and rescue personnel. Pierce and Kitsap Counties are joining forces to conduct a two-day training exercise testing local, state and federal emergency response teams.

The drill will kick off April 19 about 5 p.m. when Kitsap fire, police and medical responders encounter a simulated biological or chemical attack.

As the scenario develops, the local responders will request state and federal resources, including the Washington State Urban Search and Rescue Task Force (WATF1), which is sponsored by Pierce County Emergency Management. The second day of the drill will focus primarily on WATF1 saving those trapped in the collapsed building.

WATF1 has 210 members and is one of FEMA’s 28 teams. The task force is made up of members from Pierce and King counties and the City of Seattle and is prepared to respond to any federally declared disaster.

The team was mobilized for last year’s Hurricanes Katrina/Rita; the Shuttle Columbia recovery, 2003; the Pentagon and World Trade Center attacks, 2001; Olympics in Atlanta, 1996; federal courthouse bombing in Oklahoma City, 1995; Northridge, CA earthquake, 1994; and Typhoon Bryan in Guam, 1992.