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Cottonwood Heights residents prep for disaster in ShakeOut drill

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Posted at 9:44 PM, Apr 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-16 23:44:12-04

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS - As the expression goes, "better safe, than sorry."

Cottonwood Heights emergency personnel and government officials worked with hundreds of residents Saturday to prepare for a natural disaster during a large-scale drill called the ShakeOut.

"It's exceptionally hard to simulate an emergency," said Cottonwood Heights Assistant Police Chief Paul Brennenman. "What it does do is allow us to exercise the skills that we do have."

Using between 200 and 300 volunteers, people were stationed at three different posts. One post, a reception center, served as a radio command post and a gathering spot for residents to gather information. It also housed pets who were lost and displaced in the event of a real life disaster.

Another location served as temporary emergency shelter that could house those who were displaced. The third and final location revolved around a mobile command post. The center, based out of a large mobile home, serves as the headquarters for all radio communications.

"We've asked precinct leaders to go out and post ribbons that indicate what kind of damage has been done to their home," said Cottonwood Heights mayor Kelyvn Cullimore.

He said that each neighborhood is broken down by Block Captains, who are responsible for roughly 10 to 15 homes on their block. They are in charge of distributing four different colored ribbons.

A green ribbon indicates things are fine, yellow and red get progressively more serious in nature, and the black means there's a fatality in the home. The family is responsible for wrapping the appropriately colored ribbon to a fixture outside their house so that a Block Captain can report their findings to mobile command.

"It's a great idea, and very efficient," said Shawn Rynearson, a Cottonwood Heights resident. "Hopefully, we won't have to use them."