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Emergency Operations Plan Proves Helpful

By Staff | Nov 6, 2015

The test was a “Full Scale Emergency Hazardous Material and Evacuation Exercise” it occurred at approximately 5:15 P.M. on the 28th of October. The exercise started with a hazardous chemical spill located in the vacant area east of the carwash. Shortly after that, the sirens sounded and an emergency message was broadcasted.

The purpose of the exercise called the “Emergency Operations Plan” was to evaluate the evacuation and sheltering areas of the Rugby area. It also allowed responders to practice a tactical response to an incident of the caliber acted out in this exercise. According to Kelsey Siegler Pierce County’s Emergency Manager, “It is very apparent that we have large amounts of hazardous chemicals being transported through Pierce County utilizing several methods. We also have seen an increase of crude oil being transported by rail and the expanding pipeline system in the county. All agencies have encouraged specialized training for an incident involving both rail and pipeline.” She continued, “But for this exercise, we chose to stage an incident off of the highway with chemicals less familiar to us that are also fatal. This required responders to evaluate the situation and use some different responding techniques.”

The agencies that responded to the exercise included: Rugby Fire Department, Rugby Police Department, Rugby Ambulance Services, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department (Officers, Reserve Deputies, Dispatchers), Pierce County Emergency Services and North Dakota Department of Emergency Services.

Ken Reed Director of Rugby EMS said about the exercise, “It is important that we test our local response plans for large scale incidents to keep our personnel proficient and to identify opportunities for improvement.”

Some of the people and companies that made it possible according to Siegler were Hartley’s School Busses and North Central Ag. Each lent equipment to assist with the exercise.

In addition, you can’t have a catastrophic event without victims. Eight Rugby Drama Students provided these services admirably under the direction of Mr. Kyle Vareberg.

Also assisting were seventeen Rugby residents who volunteered to be evacuated from their homes and be sheltered at Memorial Hall until their neighborhood was declared “safe”. The Rugby Gymnastics Club also assisted by helping organize events at the Memorial Hall. Luis Coca drove the evacuation bus and Karin Fursather served the meal at the shelter. The meal was paid for by the Rugby Fire Department Auxiliary.

North Star Community Credit Union, Center Mutual Insurance , Terry Wentz (Wentz’s Carwash) and Shopko were all very understanding landowners when the exercise expanded onto their property and KZZJ and The Pierce County Tribune provided media coverage both pre and post exercise that assisted in the successful execution of this exercise commented Siegler.

It is plans like this, with people like Siegler, Reed, all the first responders and volunteers that continue to keep Rugby safe.

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