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The City Journals

Draper City’s disaster simulation preparing residents for emergencies

Feb 21, 2019 11:38AM ● By Travis Barton

Approximately 40 people participated in Draper’s disaster simulation in January. (Photo courtesy Scott Chatwin)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

Draper City Hall played host to a disaster simulation at the end of January to better prepare residents for emergencies. 

Approximately 40 people descended on City Hall’s council chambers as Emergency Services Coordinator Scott Chatwin led them through how to properly manage resources. 

“(The simulation) does such a good job teaching and reinforcing the need for resources in a disaster or emergencies,” he said shortly after the event. 

Resources for your home may not apply to your work, and vice versa. Chatwin, a retired Air Force veteran, said having residents be knowledgeable no matter the situation will limit possible damage. 

Training such as stop the bleed, first aid, CPR, tactical emergency casualty care, and run hide fight are “all good things you take wherever you go because you're not going to have the resources that you need,” he said. 

Tourniquets and first-aid supplies might not be readily available, so someone might have to improvise. 

“What we're trying to get,” Chatwin said, “is for people to think about what skills they can use and then be able to solve the problem even though they may not have the resources.” 

Draper has an information dispersion system to ensure communication is available during city emergencies. The city has an emergency preparedness committee with a member representing each of the city’s 10 emergency districts. 

The committee is full, but Chatwin said they need more block captains, who cover approximately eight to 10 houses.

“It’s all on the individual — if the individual is prepared then they prepare their house,” he said. 

The simulation worked by separating participants into different groups — local government, business owners, households — and then city officials had to decide whether to release water from the damn to flood businesses or flood the water treatment plant. And how will the resources available help solve the problem? 

Flooding the businesses will have a lasting effect on those who work there, while flooding the water treatment plant contaminates the water. 

Chatwin said this is what cities and organizations consider all the time. “They have to come up with those decisions, and it’s not by what's worse, because they're both bad.”

Chatwin recalled when Provo City drained water from the reservoirs into the Provo River in May 2017. This was required to make room in the reservoir for spring snowmelt that was heading downstream. They let residents know beforehand to prepare for possible flooding. 

“I really admired them for the way they went about the whole thing to save the dams and reservoirs,” he said. “What does preparedness do? It helps us recover, helps us limit the scope of the damages, limit the effect on us.” 

The better prepared people are, Chatwin said, the more likely it is to limit loss of life, property damage or displace people. 

“We're trying to train people to be resilient, to be able to recover from it,” Chatwin said. 

Though earthquakes, wildfires or mudslides are the expected disasters, it’s the day-to-day emergencies that residents should prepare for, according to Chatwin. Emergencies such as a broken car or a leaky pipe. 

“You're going to need these skills and you're going to need that ability to manage the resources” for problem solving and simply personal improvement, Chatwin said. 

Chatwin’s background as a member of a fighter group with the Air Force ties into his current work, he said. He deployed to hostile regions so they “planned for those events all the time. When you’re going into an area and you have to make sure you’re safe, make sure you take what you need,” he said. 

For Chatwin, it’s all about the one. Helping mitigate someone’s concerns about natural disasters is what he wants to do. 

“Getting people to live with the threats in their life and being able to recover and deal with them,” he said. “That's preparedness.” 

For more information, visit Draper City’s website or