Simulation puts disaster response team to test

By Tamie Meck


Simulation puts disaster response team to test | Hotchkiss

Photo by Tamie Meck Members of the Hotchkiss Fire District, Southwest Incident Management Team and other emergency organizations participate in a mock disaster exercise Friday at the Maloney House in Hotchkiss. The exercise focused on a 17-member incident

A two-day training that took place last Thursday and Friday at the Maloney House in Hotchkiss simulated a 17-member incident management team and its response to a large tornado in Chelsea County, a fictitious county based on a real Colorado county.

Put on by the Southwest Incident Management Team, the tornado badly damaged facilities from hospitals to animal rescue shelters and there were numerous deaths, trainer Paul Hollar, a member of the Southwest Incident Management Team. The governor had declared an emergency, and there were numerous fatalities. "It's the really, really bad day."

From a mobile emergency response base, team members had to establish a clear chain of command, identify and prioritize resources, identify strategies, stabilize critical infrastructure functions and restore emergency systems, and maintain communication with other emergency responders.

The command center was outfitted with equipment from an incident management team all-hazards mobile command center trailer that will now be stationed at the Hotchkiss Fire Department. The trailer holds the equipment necessary to set up an incident command system in response to numerous types of emergencies. The incident management team has had the trailer in the Durango area for about three years and was purchased with funds from the Department of Homeland Security, said Hollar. The trailer is also available for use by other emergency response teams around the state.