Emergency rescue practices tested in Portland

Emergency rescue practices tested in Portland

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by Nina Mehlhaf, KGW Staff

kgw.com

Posted on September 23, 2013 at 1:33 PM

Updated Monday, Sep 23 at 2:16 PM

PORTLAND -- Traveling cell tower and Wi-Fi compounds have been set up in Boulder County, Colo. for emergency communication after storms caused widespread damage last month. That same technology has been brought to Portland this week, in case disaster strikes the Northwest.

More than dozen semi-trucks of satellite, Wi-Fi, cellular and server equipment was staged in a Port of Portland parking lot near Portland International Airport.

The trucks have driven all over the country during emergencies like 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and floods like the ones experienced in Colorado.

Related: Woman found dead in Colorado flood

They can be in a location within 24 hours of a disaster.

Forty AT&T employees from all over the country were in Portland this week, essentially setting up an entire mobile command center to simulate the situation of a central hub being destroyed and the trucks having to provide cell and internet service for a stranded community.

The Port of Portland, elected officials and police and fire departments were checking out what they do all week so if the real thing happened, they could better work together under duress.

With Oregon's rains, wildfires and Mt. Saint Helens nearby, Portland made for the perfect place to test their preparedness skills.

"We're very dependent on our communication," said Kelly Morrison with AT&T Emergency Preparedness Division. "I'm very attached to my smart phone, but for businesses it's critical.”

“That communication link is essential especially after a disaster,” Morrison said. “[Employees] need to get back on their feet, calling for recovery efforts and have that communication link work."

Some of these same trucks are in Colorado right now and were used for families in areas where the fiber links were washed away, to call loved ones and tell them they were okay.

People and insurance companies use the trucks to file claims after a disaster.

The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation and 6-year-old black lab " Salsa" were also in Portland this week, showing off Salsa’s agility and keen nose. AT&T is a large donor to the foundation and invited them.

Most recently, "Salsa" searched for victims right after the Moore, Oklahoma tornado.

Related: Local volunteers head to Oklahoma

More: Police stage 'active shooter' drill in Longview

 

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