Sikeston DPS: Major quake here would keep help out for days

By Kathy Sweeney - bio | email

SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) - Sikeston DPS Chief Drew Juden is surrounded by state of the art equipment, much of it designed to aid his department in responding to a major earthquake.

He walked through the Mobile Command Unit they've had since 2004.

And, his officers have had just a small taste of what to expect from that magnitude of disaster, courtesy of the 2009 ice storm.

"The good lesson that we came away with as a community from the ice storm is that everybody did an excellent job in the community of neighbors helping neighbors," Juden said.

Juden feels this very basic lesson will also come into play if an earthquake rocks our region, because he expects it may be impossible for any outside help to get in.

"I think it will be five to seven days, maybe as many as ten, before we see resources come in here," said Juden.  "If it can't be flown in, it's not going to get here."

So, Sikeston continues making its own pre-quake plans.  Each city building is clearly marked with a red sign in case the power goes out.

"If someone comes in and has to hook a generator to the building, they know what the power requirements are,"  the Chief explained.

Each officer knows how to use equipment designed to free victims from a collapsed home or building. Public Safety Officer Rick Colbert showed how air shores are used to stabilize buildings, an air bag that can lift vehicles or concrete and a tripod with a body harness attached.

"That's a harness that we use to put people in," said Colbert. "Then, we use the tripod to lower them below grade."

Chief Juden says across Missouri, his city is known to face a very real seismic threat.

"It's always been our philosophy that we need to work towards this as a goal, have as much equipment here that's going to help us in a major disaster like that so that we can protect the citizens," said Juden.

It's Sikeston's seismic threat that also got it chosen as the pilot sight for a new statewide communications system.

Friday afternoon, there was an officer running tests on the new radio tower at Bloomfield that will be part of MOSWIN, the Missouri Statewide Inner-Operability Network.

Chief Juden described how the system will bring emergency responders together from across the state.

"Within the next four to six weeks, I'll be able to pick up a radio and talk directly to that state trooper," said the chief. "I'll be able to pick up that same radio and talk directly to Jefferson City to the State Emergency Operations Center."

Juden said he hopes to test the radio system during a national earthquake response event that will take place across seven mid-western states in May.

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