A Midwest earthquake is possible. A week-long, multi-state exercise is meant to prepare those who could respond. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency is staging part of it at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. “What we want to learn out of it is,” says Patti Thompson, IEMA's spokeswoman, “where do we need to turn our attention, where are our weaknesses, what do we need to work on. You never want to do an exercise where you pass with flying colors; you haven't really tested anything.” Thompson says both in a drill and in the event of an actual emergency, there would be an “after-action” review.
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Participants at the fairgrounds Tuesday rotated from station to station. The operations chief for IEMA, Trent Thompson (cq; not related to Patti Thompson), says this is not something which can be done online or in a conference room. “This is really the learning and education process for our partners who are here,” says Trent Thompson, referring to groups such as the Illinois National Guard and local fire and emergency professionals. “The goal here, the last question at the end of the day is, when I look at our National Guard partners, can you stand this up yourselves and run this exercise with minimal IEMA injections?”
Patti Thompson says the drill was three years in the making.