An annual exercise tested community response and included a potential chemical weapons stockpile emergency in Pueblo, Colorado, during the first week of May.
“The purpose of the exercise is to test emergency preparedness in the community, on- and off-post, and respond to and notify the community,” said Gayle Perez, public information officer, Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program, Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office.
Nearly 2,000 people from more than 30 local, state and federal agencies gathered together in Pueblo for the annual emergency exercise, designed to prepare communities for emergencies surrounding the nation’s remaining chemical weapons stockpile.
Perez said the Pueblo Community Joint Information Center was activated in response to a mock off-post incident involving flooding that resulted in a bus accident. First responders practiced the treatment of injuries and decontamination skills.
The on-post scenario involved a simulated chemical incident at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot. Twenty outdoor warning sirens located in the emergency zones surrounding the depot were also tested.
“This exercise is an annual tool for a multi-agency response to simultaneous incidents,” said Col. Christopher Grice, commander, PCD. “Refining our methods of response is integral to the purpose of the CSEPP intent and we look forward to expanding and reinforcing our partner relationships with community, state and county agencies.”
A third, non-related hazardous materials emergency scenario was held at a Pueblo West middle school. New scenarios are created each year for the federally-evaluated exercise, Perez said.
“During the exercise, the JIC functioned as it should,” Perez said. The partners showed they could work together for a single outcome during an emergency.”