Emergency crews to test skills
Sports teams engage in preseason training to help sharpen their skills and to develop continuity. In some ways, several area government entities are gearing up for the big game. Emergency managers from Slope, Billings and Bowman counties are lead...
Sports teams engage in preseason training to help sharpen their skills and to develop continuity.
In some ways, several area government entities are gearing up for the big game.
Emergency managers from Slope, Billings and Bowman counties are leading a planning team which encompasses officials from the United States Forest Service, as well as the Civil Support Team of the North Dakota National Guard.
These agencies, along with the state Emergency Operations Center, American Red Cross, law enforcement, fire fighters, emergency medical services and emergency management from several counties are participating in a large disaster exercise to test the abilities of federal, state and local responders.
The disaster exercise is Saturday in northwestern Slope County by Burning Coal Vein. Different entities are planning the disaster on Friday.
"The emphasis is on mutual aide operations between counties and responders," Bowman County Emergency Manager Dean Pearson said. "The emphasis is on working together. We will test and prepare for whatever is out there between various agencies."
As the mock disaster unfolds, responding teams are searching for a missing aircraft that possibly contains passengers with suspected ties to terrorist organizations and are traveling with biological agents.
Focusing on terrorist attacks seems fitting with the upcoming anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"We are all deeply aware of the situations as they are unfolding," Pearson said. "At this stage of the game, you can never say never. We don't like to prepare for it, but we have to."
Counties from South Dakota and Montana were invited to participate in the exercise but couldn't because of scheduling conflicts.
"We try to keep the bordering counties involved, even though they are from Montana and South Dakota," Pearson said. "They are mutual aide counties with Bowman County."
A total of 136 participants are part of the rescue exercise. People are coming from as far away as Bottineau and Dickey counties. Also making the trip to the region are representatives from the city of Bismarck.
"There are various people who never exercised or trained together," Pearson said. "We will see if we can put together what we've been trained to do to make it work. We will make it realistic so we can accomplish something, too."
If possible, Pearson said another disaster exercise might be rescheduled next year to apply what was learned.
"We are trying so many things that are new," he said. "Next year, it could be more detailed or harder."