Emergency crews prepare for massive earthquake on Oregon coast - KPTV - FOX 12

Emergency crews prepare for massive earthquake on Oregon coast

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Scientists say in the next 50 years, there's about a 1-in-3 chance we will experience a massive subduction zone earthquake in the Pacific Northwest.

While there's no way to stop it from happening, there are things all of us must do to prepare.

Emergency responders were practicing for a very specific scenario near the Oregon coast on Thursday.

In the rescue scenario, search and extraction crews were trying to reach survivors trapped inside a collapsed and contaminated hospital with damaged x-ray equipment leaking radiation.

During the drill, crews outside the demolished structure tended to the wounded. While inside, crews practiced maneuvers in full contamination suits.

"It's so more involved than what people think. You can't just crawl into rubble. There's hazardous materials. There's power that's on. There's natural gas," said Sergeant Eric Muller with Oregon National Guard. "If something happened at a hospital, there's x-ray machines with hazards that way."

The drill was coordinated by the Oregon National Guards Enhanced Response Force, who prepare for disasters of all types.

"Like with any skill the fundamentals don't change. If you're going to do search and rescue in a building you need to know how to do, whether it's in response to an explosion, in response to an earthquake, or a mudslide," said Lt. Colonel Michael Moffit.

Gaining those fundamental skills requires preparation and practice. Not just for these specialized units, for every day citizens.

"Just do the basics. We're not asking you to have a level three suit, and be able to rig up a 401 system to be able to pull someone out of a shaft. That's our job. Your job is to be able to stay alive and survive until help arrives," said Sgt. Muller.

In a real disaster, practice may never make perfect but a little preparation now may one day increase all of our chances of survival.

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