ARIZONA — The Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs sent out a press release Nov. 4, announcing a planned statewide exercise to test the preparedness of response agencies in case the lights go out.
The drill was planned for Nov. 6-7, with another drill set for Nov. 20-21, with multiple exercises involving over 240 agencies.
The North American Grid EX II drill has been planned by the federal government for Nov. 13-14 and will affect the United States, Canada and Mexico.
“Details about the exercise are being withheld until the day of the event to preserve the integrity of the response from participating agencies,” stated the release. “This exercise is designed to test how well participating agencies respond to a widespread power loss and challenges stemming from that event … No loss of electric service is expected as part of this simulation.”
There was no mention of the North American drill in the press release, but it is assumed that the Arizona exercises are in coordination with the Grid EX II drills.
“Preparedness exercises provide a learning environment for emergency management communities and give them the opportunity to apply training and practice procedures,” said the release.
The release goes on to mention how families can be prepared in case of an extended power outage and included: Keep flashlights, a battery-operated radio and phone handy, have a first aid kit and prescription medicines on hand, remain indoors during a storm, and if the power is out for a long period of time, pack cold and frozen foods in coolers.
When leaving her post as head of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano said during a speech that it was not a question of if, but of when a cyber attack would take down the grid.
On Oct. 27, the National Geographic Channel broadcast a show called “American Blackout” that simulated what various people would go through in the event of a long-term blackout. It was not pretty. The good news for the show was that the lights came back on after a few weeks.
The press release does not mention specific agencies and businesses that are involved in the Arizona exercises. It said, “More than 2,300 people representing local, county, state, federal, tribal and volunteer agencies throughout the state are expected to participate.”
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