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Corvallis Gazette-Times: Emergency planners train to assist vulnerable populations

Posted December 19th, 2013 by UHDS News

(Corvallis Gazette-Times, Dec. 19, 2013) — Corvallis and Benton County employees and representatives of partner organizations held an emergency preparedness exercise Wednesday that simulated the effects of a devastating winter storm hitting the area — basically, a situation with which the community has some recent experience.

Erik Rau, the emergency services planner for Benton County, said this exercise — which was planned months ago — was focused on improving how local agencies can help the community’s most vulnerable people, such as those with hearing or vision problems and cognitive disorders, those who can’t get around on their own easily or who have physical problems related to advanced age. They also wanted to know how better to help people who are medically or chemically dependent or homeless and even how better to assist someone in an emergency who can’t speak English or who is geographically or culturally isolated.

“We’re already catching a lot of improvements we need to make,” he said mid-way through the exercise.

Agencies participating in the exercise included Oregon State University Housing & Dining Services, Corvallis Fire Department, Corvallis Police Department, Benton County Sheriff’s Office, Benton County Public Works, Benton County Special Transportation Services, Benton County Health Department, and City of Corvallis Public Works. …

Evaluators Larry Wiedenhoft, front seated, and Sophia Grimm, standing rear, watch as Kathryn Magura, left, checks in Tess Whipple at Marketplace West on the Oregon State University campus Wednesday afternoon during a disaster drill. (Andy Cripe | Corvallis Gazette-Times)

Evaluators Larry Wiedenhoft, front seated, and Sophia Grimm, standing rear, watch as Kathryn Magura, left, checks in Tess Whipple at Marketplace West on the Oregon State University campus Wednesday afternoon during a disaster drill. (Andy Cripe | Corvallis Gazette-Times)

 

… Kathryn Magura, who works in operations at UHDS, participated in the drill by finding vacant places on campus to house the “displaced” people who had simulated evacuating during the drill, as she might do if there were a real disaster.

She said UHDS does their own emergency training, but she liked knowing that they also had capacity to help the community in a disaster.

Magura, who used a laptop to access UHDS housing information, said one of her big takeaways was that just having a pad of paper to take notes with would have been valuable.

“As much as we love technology, we need other things,” she said. …

Read the full story on the Corvallis Gazette-Times website. Article by Anthony Rimel. Photos by Andy Cripe.


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