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Nationwide drills come 200 years after New Madrid earthquake - KOAM TV 7

Nationwide drills come 200 years after New Madrid earthquake

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

From December 1811 to February 1812, a series of four earthquakes shook the New Madrid fault line.  The quakes ranged from 7.0 to 8.0 magnitudes.

If the New Madrid fault line shakes again, the White House wants hospital and emergency workers to be ready.  That is why they have implemented the largest planning drill in U.S. history, coinciding with the 200th anniversary of the 1811 quakes.

Freeman Director of Emergency Trauma Services Bob Denton says it is vital to prepare for worse-case scenarios.

"For many communities, the hospital is the place that people go to in times of distress," Denton says.  "We need to practice disaster drills so that when the event does occur, first of all, we know what to expect from other agencies, and also what to expect in our own organization."

One of today's scenarios involved getting medical supplies in the event that their resources are exhausted.

The drills also prepare employees with fatality management, mass shelter and  power outages.

Warning systems are in place for natural disasters such as tornados.  Earthquakes, however, can hit unexpectedly and at any time.

The Director of Clinical Operations at Freeman, Linda Dean, says recovering from an earthquake can take longer than other natural disasters and make it difficult to ship important supplies.

"You've got all this devastation of these huge major thoroughfares so you interrupt, truthfully you interrupt the east to west transportation, west-east transportation across the whole United States with this so it is very, very, very devastating," says Dean.

Freeman along with other agencies near the New Madrid seismic zone will participate in this drill until Friday.

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