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Lahar on Mt St Helens 1982. Photo: USGS

Cross-border agencies join in joint disaster response exercise

Local first responders and emergency management agencies from Whatcom County will be joined by the City of Abbotsford, City of Langley, the Township of Langley, US Customs and Border Protection and Canada Border Services Agency during a disaster response exercise based on a Mount Baker lahar.

November 15th and 16th, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and Canada Department of National Defence’s Centre for Security Science will collaborate on what will be the fifth Canada-US Enhanced Resiliency Experiment (CAUSE V). The series began in 2011 and took place on the US-Canadian border to test various communication technologies and information sharing tools during scenarios, each time at a different location.

During the exercise, referred to by officials as an experiment, emergency management officials and first responder agencies on both sides of the border will test their capabilities and cooperation in response to a volcanic eruption and crater collapse scenario at Mount Baker.

The CAUSE V experiment will take place along the border between of British Columbia and the state of Washington. According to DHS, the experiment will examine the importance of efficient cross border communication and information sharing during times of emergency.

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According to DHS, the several day scenario will begin with reports of increased volcanic activity on Mount Baker, prompting the Cascades Volcano Observatory to raise the alert level. A major earthquake will then occur followed by steam and ash emissions from the mountain. The National Weather Service will then forecast river flooding and lahar, a destructive flow of volcanic debris. A volcanic eruption of Mount Baker will then cause a collapse of the Sherman crater wall sending lahar down into the lowlands below. The lahar will cause extensive damage in both WA and BC, requiring an immediate response from multiple agencies from both sides of the border.

According to a press release from Whatcom County Unified Emergency Coordination Center, participating agencies will utilize tools for enhanced situational awareness and communications to plan for, respond and recover from the disaster. DHS officials say the technologies will include experimental Public Safety Broadband Network/FirstNet compatible handheld devices to provide communication and aerial robots to enable conducting damage assessments remotely.


  1. John Yumanski John Yumanski November 12, 2017

    Are they going to randomly set off the tsunami warning sirens like they did last month and scare the bejeezus out of everyone?

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