Port of Tacoma hosts major tabletop exercise

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More than a hundred people from about 40 agencies gathered in Tacoma June 26 for a tabletop exercise simulating a large-scale emergency response.  

The Port of Tacoma organized the event, which used the scenario of a fire on a car carrier ship docked at a terminal to bolster the region’s ability to respond to a major vessel incident. 

With an increase in the number of car carrier vessels coming into Tacoma carrying both internal combustion engine and electric vehicles, we really need to step up our game,” said Alisa Praskovich, Chief of Strategic Projects and Commission Relations for the Port of Tacoma. “We’re taking a full day to slow-walk through all of the different questions and resources and how we would respond to a major car carrier vessel fire.” 

Participants included the U.S. Coast Guard, Tacoma Fire Department, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Environmental Protection Agency, state and local officials, representatives of vessel owners, and industry emergency response organizations from Pierce and King Counties 

“We're all here with the same mission. We're here to serve the public, to protect the public. And by learning how we work together, we're able to serve the public better,” said Chelsea Shepherd, spokesperson for the Tacoma Fire Department. 

The tabletop was led by incident management consultants from The Response Group and included exercises focused on firefighting operations, incident command, and public information. 

“Bringing together a lot of these federal, state, local, tribal and industry partners together is just such a beneficial thing to do,” said Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier of the U.S. Coast Guard. 

This was the first regional tabletop exercise of its kind in years 

The Port plans additional preparedness events in the future, such as a full-scale multi-day exercise.