The Lab’s unique location and geography put three disasters that might befall the Lab — earthquakes, wildfires, and landslides — at the top of the list of worries for Lab Emergency Manager Tonya Petty.
Tonya leads the Lab’s Emergency Management team, which has the primary responsibility for preparing for, responding to, and recovering from such disasters. Tonya and her team oversee the 700 volunteers who have agreed and are trained to fulfill various roles in a disaster at the Lab, such as search and rescue, supplementing medical services, and providing building inspections post-disaster.
Tonya and her team also ensure that supplies are available in the zone disaster containers; they plan for and conduct various drills for the lab community on evacuation, lockdown, and shelter-in-place; and they drill emergency responders and Emergency Operations Center personnel.
Elements: What are the things that keep you up at night?
Tonya Petty: I worry most about being able to reach Lab personnel with accurate and timely information. In a disaster, it is common to have cascading events with compounded hazards, and communications may fail to reach everyone. Having up-to-date situational information will ensure we use our emergency response assets strategically, which will allow us to guide our personnel to the safest options. To do that, we need everyone to sign up for Lab Alert.
Elements: How have you planned for these events?
Tonya: Early detection is key, so we have developed operational dashboards that provide seismic activity, wildland fire data, and transportation and power outage information. When an emergency occurs, we want employees to know what protective actions to take, so we train and drill regularly. Well-trained and equipped first responders are devoted to the Lab and will immediately respond.
Elements: What should those who work at the Lab do to prepare for emergencies?
Tonya: Understand the potential hazards we face as a community and know how to report emergencies. It is important for personnel to know how to safely evacuate their buildings or the Lab site; know two ways out of your building, and two ways to get off-site and home, and have a go-bag ready. Be prepared to shelter in a Lab building to reduce exposure to external threats. The Lab has volunteers specially trained to assist with these protective actions.