JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WDTN) – Hundreds of emergency workers tested their capabilities during a mock disaster Wednesday.
Public health departments, fire crews and EMS from eight Miami Valley counties participated in a full-scale emergency exercise. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) sponsored the event at the Montgomery County fairgrounds as one of two of its kind in the country.
Wednesday’s scenario was the setup and operation of a Community Reception Center in response to a hypothetical nuclear explosion in Indianapolis.
“People would be coming to a Dayton location or other areas that would be outside of the blast zone,” explained Dan Suffoletto, the public information supervisor for Dayton and Montgomery County Public Health. “They would be triaged and determined what kind of medical assistance or decontamination they would need.”
Within the staged Community Reception Center, volunteers playing contamination victims filtered through an intake line, into a medic tent or through a radiation screening machine and then directed for more screening, a decontamination tent or to a discharge and education station. The simulation also included county public information officers continuously updating each other and the media.
Observers and timers evaluated how efficiently the teams communicated and moved victims through the process.
“We’re trying to tests the setup to make sure we have proper flow for when this would have to be used in real life,” Suffoletto said.
For many of the almost 200 participants, it was the first time working on disaster training with others outside of their county.
“It’s really important for people to know that there’s teams of experts out there everyday practicing and training and making sure they’re ready should something happen,” said Suffoletto.
Several outside companies also demonstrated available technology, like Verizon’s portable critical communications case, hazmat gear and mobile crisis response team.
“Being able to have these governments communicate effectively between each other, it is extemely vital,” Verizon network operations supervisor David Yowler said of the company’s role in disaster response.
Agencies will de-brief after the exercise and the CDC may follow-up and use observations from the event to develop training guidelines.