Apr 30, 2012 11:16 AM by Greg Boyce
Every year emergency workers in Pueblo County run a large emergency drill to test readiness in case of a disaster. The scope is large because of the proximity of the Pueblo Chemical Depot, where thousands of obsolete chemical weapons are stored.
This year the drill is scheduled for Wednesday. It will run from 9 a.m. to early afternoon.
The exercise scenario will involve a simulated chemical incident at Pueblo Chemical Depot and another non-related emergency within Pueblo County requiring the activation of the Pueblo County Emergency Operations Center, the Pueblo Community Joint Information Center, and field decontamination and treatment facilities.
Nearly 600 people from the American Red Cross, ACOVA, Colorado Division of Emergency Management, local hospitals, Pueblo School District 70, the Pueblo Chemical Depot, Pueblo County Sheriff's Office, and a half- dozen other first-response agencies in Pueblo County will participate.
Two of Pueblo's public warning capabilities will also be tested during the exercise. Twenty outdoor warning sirens located in the emergency zones surrounding the Pueblo Chemical Depot will be tested at noon. Nearly 1600 tone alert radios, which serve as a warning for people who are indoors, will sound a test message at 10:45 a.m.
The public may see exercise related activity at several locations. The responders may be dressed in full protective equipment and mock accident victims will receive realistic looking injury make-up called moulage. Emergency equipment and vehicles will be deployed to the various sites such as the Pueblo Memorial Airport Industrial Park, Baxter Learning Center, Desert Sage Elementary, and Pueblo West Elementary.
Pueblo County Sheriff's Office Emergency Services Bureau Chief, Mark Mears, says local response agencies work hard planning and preparing for the drill all year long. "This exercise is a valuable tool for agencies to work together and coordinate their responses to multiple incidents at one time. It gives us a chance to test our combined plans and our procedures and revise them if necessary," Mears says.