In August more than 800 volunteers came together with the Independence and Jackson County, Missouri Office of Emergency Management, Adventist Community Services Disaster Response, The American Red Cross, Salvation Army and other volunteer organizations for a national mass care exercise in Kansas City. Volunteers included more than 100 Adventists from the Iowa-Missouri, Central States and Kansas-Nebraska conferences, as well as the entire senior class from Sunnydale Adventist Academy.
The exercise, the largest of its kind ever conducted in Missouri, was based on a realistic scenario severe earthquake along the New Madrid fault zone that stretches across southeastern Missouri, northeastern Arkansas, western Tennessee, western Kentucky, and southern Illinois.
Evacuee role players were given detailed back stories including names, where they were from and how they ended up in Kansas City, their primary modes of transportation, types of injuries and any medications needed, and whether or not they had been separated from family and/or pets. Moulage artist Tyler Anderson, assistant program director of the International Rescue and Relief program at Union College, provided the role players with realistic-looking wounds.
Volunteer workers were broken into different stations. Greeters and screeners assessed immediate needs with care and compassion. Ambassadors assisted the evacuees by pushing wheelchairs or helping them get to the next station or to medical care.
NMETS Tracking System
After being sent to the various stations, evacuees would reach the National Mass Evacuation Tracking System operator. At this station, the evacuees’ information is added to a national database that tracks where they came from, any possessions they have, as well as family members and pets in case they have been separated. The system also keeps track of where the evacuee is going.
NMETS operators are specially trained and exceedingly important. There are only 50 operators nationwide, and 12 of them are in the Kansas City area. Beverly VonHolt from the ACSDR team was the operator for the unaccompanied minors. She patiently worked to gather all the information possible from the minors who played their parts at being scared and confused by everything that they had gone through since the earthquake.
Shelter and Distribution Centers
Shuttle services were provided to evacuees needing shelter. There was even one for families with pets. At the shelter, evacuees were provided with meals, medicine and all necessary first aid after further evaluation. Volunteers had prepared cots and provided stuffed animals for small children, making the shelter as comfortable as possible.
A distribution site was set up at the Lowes store in Independence, with provisions such as tarps, water, food and clothing. Many volunteers took a day off work while some took their children out of class and a few even closed their businesses to participate, demonstrating how vital the need is to be prepared for a New Madrid earthquake.
–Kristy McClenagan is a member of the Independence, Missouri Church and a volunteer for the National Care Exercise.