Several hundred people across ten Kentucky counties will take part in an emergency preparedness exercise related to chemical weapons storage and destruction Sept. 21.
This annual training activity is designed to prepare emergency-response and related personnel in the unlikely event of an accident or incident with the chemical munitions stored at the Blue Grass Army Depot, said Michael Bryant, administrative director, Madison County Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP). The program’s exercises and continuous planning will also support the Blue Grass Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant when it starts operations.
“We do this to make sure we are as prepared as possible,” Bryant said. “I compare it to playing sports. The more you practice, the better you will be.”
Planners put together a scenario to stretch participants’ capabilities and help them learn everything they can from the event, so a real-life response will be second-nature to them, he said. The community, including first responders, emergency care providers, the state health department, local schools and many other area organizations, works together so a response will be seamless. More than 100 evaluators from across the country will grade the community’s response and provide constructive feedback for future planning.
“We use the experience of people who have been in the chemical demilitarization program for years, people who do emergency planning and people who are skilled in all different aspects of emergency preparedness and response to evaluate our participants,” said Bryant. “This wealth of expertise helps our people learn and grow much faster.”
These exercises are conducted to ensure maximum protection to the community, said Angie Hurst, public affairs officer, Blue Grass Chemical Activity. Local residents can anticipate hearing the CSEPP sirens during this exercise. The sirens will sound Westminster Chimes, the sound normally played during siren tests and quarterly exercises.