It may have seemed to be mundane when a Civil Air Patrol plane landed at the Richfield Regional Airport Saturday.

After all, the CAP lands in Richfield all the time, and even has a hangar on the facility. 

However, this landing was a way to test the ability for supplies to be sent to Richfield from St. George with all roads knocked out. It wasn’t so much about delivering a package as it was opening channels of communication and cooperation.

In rural Utah, the reality is that most communities are fairly isolated geographically. The result is if and when a large scale disaster hits the region, it will require people to be self-sufficient.

Sevier County has the benefit of having people who have worked very hard over the last decade to create an emergency preparedness program that maximizes the limited rural resources. The Sevier County Local Emergency Planning Committee has dozens of people, representing many different agencies and interests. The LEPC meets monthly to discuss how to prepare the region for a variety of disasters.

Large scale disasters can come in many different forms. The earthquake used for Saturday’s exercise is just one scenario. Chemical spills, school shootings and even terrorist attacks are all things for which local emergency responders prepare.

By looking ahead, understanding available resources and having a plan in place for the most effective use of those resources, the county will be vastly more prepared for whatever comes its way. Part of being able to effectively use resources is to have cooperation across agencies — law enforcement, emergency medical services, public health and area hospitals all have roles to play, and therefor a place at the emergency planning table. 

Individuals can do their part by having 72-hour kits, and plans in place for surviving when its going to take time for help to arrive.

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