NASHVILLE, Tenn.- Earthquakes are a natural disaster not many know could affect the mid-state, but emergency responders are making sure they're ready in case of a catastrophic emergency.
All this week in Nashville, several state and local agencies have been working together to practice an emergency earthquake drill. Crews are practicing a scenario where the New Madrid fault line a major seismic zone near Memphis, creates a 7.7 magnitude earthquake.
"Tennessee has many years of experience responding to tornadoes, floods and ice storms," said Jim Bassham, director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. "A catastrophic earthquake will present a set of very large challenges, such as damage estimation, search and rescue operations, and generally being able to move supplies into the affected area. We have to practice to be ready and to identify any gaps we need to fill in our response."
The drill focused on managing lifesaving supplies, establishing emergency communications at the state and local level and tracking the movement of medical supplies to local hospitals.
"Preparedness is really everyone's responsibility," said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. "Along with emergency agencies, every able person should do all he or she can do to be ready for the major earthquake none of us wants to see — but we all know may happen one day. This exercise demonstrates the strong commitment by TEMA, and other critical response and recovery agencies and organizations, to help Tennesseans be aware of the challenges we'll face and how we all need to be prepared."
2012 marked the 200th anniversary of a series of catastrophic earthquakes that struck New Madrid, Missouri. The drill began on July 9 and will be complete on July 11.