While unseasonable wet weather delays the wildfire season, the Payson Police Department went ahead with its annual surprise evacuation drill on May 17 near Green Valley Parkway and Country Club Lane.
“Officers did not have advanced notice of the drill. Nobody knew but me about that day,” said Payson Police Chief Don Engler.
Each year, Engler picks a different neighborhood. Officers have no idea when or where the evacuation drill will occur.
This year, the drill started with a call out at 10 a.m. Two hours later, officers had contacted 91 residents.
The PPD uses the drill to track how long it would take to contact and evacuate residents. They also hand out information to help residents prepare for wildfire season.
“Our officers informed them it was a fire evacuation drill (and) we did provide written information and verbally talked to residents about Everbridge and Ready, Set, Go,” said Engler.
Everbridge is the communication program managed by Gila County Health and Emergency Management.
Residents can sign up for text and phone messages as well as email alerts for emergencies in their area.
To sign up, go to www.readygila.com or call 928-472-7245.
Ready, Set, Go is a program designed to help people living in the wildland-urban interface prepare to evacuate.
Run by the Ready for Wildfire Organization, Ready, Set, Go suggests what to pack, how to plan for pet evacuations and how to prepare a home to survive a wildfire.
An additional eight Payson PD volunteers assisted officers, said Engler.
“We want to ensure we’re prepared every year,” he said.