Personnel from the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot as well as Pueblo County agencies participated in a live, full-scale exercise to test their response to a potential chemical weapons stockpile emergency.
“The purpose of the exercise is to test emergency preparedness in the Pueblo 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. “This year’s event was the first hands-on exercise we’ve had since pandemic restrictions began in 2020.”
Nearly 2,000 people from more than 30 local, state and federal agencies gathered in Pueblo for the exercise in May.
“The annual CSEPP exercise is the culmination of the efforts and coordination between PCD and Pueblo County,” said Col. Jason Lacroix, commander, PCD. “This exercise validates our support to state and local emergency response teams in the unlikely event of a chemical accident or incident on the depot that could impact the local community.”
Two simultaneous mock incidents were simulated during the exercise – an on-post chemical incident at the depot and an unrelated plane crash. First responders practiced the treatment of injuries at both sites while the Pueblo Community Joint Information Center, staffed by local communications professionals, practiced responding to community members and media seeking more information about the incident.
New scenarios are created each year for the federally evaluated annual exercise. Due to COVID-19 pandemic protocols, the 2020 and 2021 exercises were conducted remotely.
“During the 2022 exercise, staging two simultaneous incidents was designed to test emergency response teams’ versatility in the unlikely event that two major incidents occurred on the same day,” Perez said. “Despite this being the first full-scale CSEPP exercise since 2019, our response partners showed their ability to capably and effectively work together for a single outcome during an emergency.”