Evaluation and recommendations for tsunami and lahar exercises in Washington State

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Leonard, G.S.; Johnston, D.M.; Gregg, C.; Garside, R.; Saunders, W.S.A.; Becker, J.S.; Fraser, S. 2011 Evaluation and recommendations for tsunami and lahar exercises in Washington State. Lower Hutt, N.Z.: GNS Science. GNS Science report 2011/32 47 p.

Abstract: Washington State Emergency Management Division provides warning for a range of hazards, including tsunami and Mount Rainier eruptions and lahars via All-Hazard Alert Broadcast (AHAB) Sirens. It can be difficult to gauge the effectiveness of a warning system for infrequent but high consequence hazards. In line with best practice these systems are regularly tested for technical reliability with community involvement. Effective warning systems for infrequent events require regular (e.g. annual) exercising to evaluate how reliable and effective the system actually is and to aid in planning and education. This report reviews and develops procedures for warning system testing and evaluation, especially of the human response. We provide general recommendations for the following: designing a warning system with the community for effective evacuation response; conducting a community-led evaluation; conducting a community-lead evacuation exercise; ‘keeping it simple’; evaluation criteria for observers and participants; community-based post exercise work-up. Draft procedures and templates were tested in two exercises. The draft observer template was trialled in a state-wide tsunami siren test on September 15th 2010, and a draft community survey was also trialled following that test. The draft participant template was then trialled on September 17th 2010 during a tsunami evacuation exercise at Shoalwater Bay Community. From trialling those draft templates, aspects of some questions and methods were improved and a final set of templates is provided. (auth)