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Southwest North Dakota emergency managers plan drill

Maybe it will be an accident, an explosion or a fire.

No matter the incident, it is important to have emergency services in place and ready to respond when and if the call comes.

That is what makes a drill for southwest North Dakota emergency service workers next month so important, said Dunn County Emergency Manager Denise Brew.

"We are intentionally addressing the question of 'what could happen?'" she said. "We want to test certain things, with the most important being our emergency response to a large scale, meaning large numbers of injuries and fire needs."

Brew said there have been other tabletop and full-scale exercises, but this will be the first since the latest oil boom began.

A tabletop exercise will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 18, at the Oxy facility north of Dickinson.

"The tabletop is just what I like to call a dress rehearsal," Brew said. "The planning committee invites the entities to come and sit down and we go step by step as to what we would need to do to respond and manage. That means calling on neighboring counties and towns for mutual aid support from their emergency service personnel."

Oxy, a petroleum company, will work alongside Dunn County Emergency Management to put all of the plans into action during a full-scale exercise Aug. 10.

"The large-scale exercise is kind of like a play, where we have created a scenario and are going to treat it like real time and see how it goes," Brew said. "We create what kind of weather we will be having also, so that determines our fire dangers. We know how many injuries in advance so that we can plan for the call out for support. We are also going to be supported by a helicopter."

The scenario, Brew said, will be "very real life and is something we very well could end up needing to respond to and manage."

The exercise, Brew said, is a win-win for all of the city and county emergency service workers.

"Everyone involved will learn something from what we do," she said.

Brew said those planning the drill have been meeting every two weeks since February. She hopes to have all emergency managers in southwest North Dakota involved in the drills.

Brew said she has a few volunteers, but is in need of more volunteers. Anyone interested in attending, or anyone who cannot attend but would like to be included in the planning and after-action aspects of an exercise should contact Brew at 701-573-4612.

"If anyone has ever been involved in moulage for an accident, this would be a great time to play," she said.

Jerry Eubank, the senior drilling health, environmental and safety advisor at Oxy, could not be reached for comment.