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Archive for Wednesday, June 24, 2009

‘Crisis city’ gets test during drill

June 24, 2009

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— Everything that could go wrong will go wrong at Crisis City.

A domestic terrorist sets off an explosion on a railroad line, causing a derailment. A propane tank catches fire and explodes into a nearby building, causing it to collapse.

It was all part of an exercise Tuesday at Crisis City, a training site near the central Kansas town of Salina. The mock city is part of the Great Plains Joint Regional Training Center, which includes the Smoky Hill Range Complex, the Kansas Regional Training Institute, the Kansas Army National Guard Training Center.

The event in Kansas involved state and local officials from Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, along with the National Guard and other federal agencies. It was part of a larger exercise, dubbed Vigilant Guard, that started last week in Iowa.

Despite temperatures that reached about 100 degrees Tuesday, officials said the Salina exercise and the venue met their needs. Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, Kansas adjutant general and emergency management director, said the weather, bugs and snakes were a good substitute for stress in a real event.

“Events happen on a Friday night when it’s dark,” he said. “It’s the kind of training you don’t want to do in the middle of town.”

Maj. Greg Platt of the Kansas National Guard managed the exercise, which he called “a 600-piece puzzle involving mostly city and county first responders working side by side.

“Many are doing it for the first time in a group effort,” Platt said.

The goal was to identify gaps in preparedness and response, and pass lessons on to others.

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