Kootenai Co. emergency crews prepare for the worst with drill




Posted on April 9, 2014 at 5:58 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 9 at 6:12 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. --Dozens of people in North Idaho were set to be on hand Wednesday and Thursday preparing for an emergency.

Kootenai County was holding a full scale exercise for its emergency management crews. They were practicing what they would do in the event of a natural disaster, much like the landslide in Oso, Washington.

More than 100 people took part in the exercise. They simulated how the county would handle having a massive snowstorm and received more than three feet of snow.

"We have several collapsed buildings. We have people that are unaccounted for that we have to take care of,” was one of the scenarios heard.

Local firefighters took part in the event. Kootenai Health also did. Their staff simulated treating patients hurt in the snowstorm.

The hub of everything emergency management is at the operations center at the Sheriff’s Office.

"It's really hectic in here. And everyone is trying to provide resources for each other. And also trying to provide damage assessment,” said Sandy Von Behren, Kootenai County EMS.

The last time the emergency management operations was activated was in 2008 when Kootenai County was hit with flooding.

 "This is an exercise, but I can tell you that the players around here feel like it's the real thing,” said Behren.

Jennifer Tingey was one of the volunteers who fielded calls from people trapped in their homes.

"You have to put yourself into their situation. You know, how would I feel? So if they're upset, I don't want to get upset. I want to help them get relief. Because I understand if my house is flooded I would need help as well," said Tingey.

Tingey is one of the 90 volunteers that make up a majority of the emergency operations staff.

The exercise will resume early Thursday morning in both Coeur d’Alene and Rathdrum.