Reception & Care Center Exercise to be Held at Wickenburg High
Palo Verde Drill Leads to Facility Improvements at Local School
Emergency responders from state, local and volunteer agencies will use Wickenburg High School to exercise evacuee reception and care center operations on May 7 to prepare for potential emergencies at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station. This exercise allows responding agencies to demonstrate response procedures, deploy resources and process simulated evacuees in response to an emergency at Palo Verde. Agencies also use this opportunity to train new employees and volunteers in reception center operations.
In an emergency, residents within a 10-mile radius may be asked to shelter in place or evacuate depending on a variety of factors. “Keeping people out of harm’s way is but the first step in responding,” said Board of Supervisor Clint Hickman, District 4. “If evacuated, a single point of service for residents is our goal,” said Hickman.
In addition to giving response agencies practice, such exercises allow responders to identify ways for improvement. After last year’s exercise it became apparent that additional all-weather access points to the gym were needed so the high school could better meet its reception and care center function for the plant.
Working together, school officials and state and county emergency managers, teamed with Palo Verde to construct the improvements, including an additional ADA accessible sidewalk, complete with guardrail. These improvements, paid for by Palo Verde, facilitate the specialized considerations involved with processing evacuees from near a nuclear plant, while providing an all-weather access to the locker rooms for students and staff.
“It was good business and good government working together,” said Hickman. “This type of cooperative problem-solving really helps our communities and that is what we’re here to do.”
This year’s reception and care center exercise will include a number of state, local and tribal agencies that would be activated in an emergency, including:
· Arizona Department of Economic Security
· Arizona Division of Emergency Management
· Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency
· Grand Canyon Chapter of the American Red Cross
· Maricopa County Animal Care and Control
· Maricopa County Emergency Communications Group
· Maricopa County Emergency Management
· Maricopa County Public Health
· Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office
· Phoenix Community Emergency Response Team
· Tohono O’odham Nation
· Town of Wickenburg
· Valley Metro
This reception and care center exercise is part of a larger, annual off-site response exercise which is graded by federal authorities every two years.
The particular services provided at reception and care centers are dependent upon the incident and the needs of the population affected. For the Palo Verde exercise, radiological monitoring, decontamination, public health, social services and temporary shelter are large components.
For more information on the emergency plan for Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, visit www.maricopa.gov/emerg_mgt or contact the Maricopa County Department of Emergency Management at 602-273-1411.
The Maricopa County Department of Emergency Management coordinates response and recovery activities through implementation of emergency response plans during and after emergencies. Implementation requires the support and assistance of many other county departments, local jurisdictions, the private sector and volunteer agencies.
Maricopa County has a population of approximately 4.2 million.