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Emergency management exercise held

Iron County Sheriff Mark Valesano and Lt. Vernon Jones (local emergency coordinator) accept a $5,000 check from Floyd Dropps of TransCanada/Great Lakes Gas Transmission Company. (submitted photo).

For The Reporter
CRYSTAL FALLS—The Iron County Sheriff’s Office is tasked with many responsibilities. Included in those responsibilities is the role of “Emergency Management.”
    The focus in emergency management incorporates five phases: prevention, preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation.
    In an effort to prepare for emergencies of a man-made or natural variety, exercises are often conducted. The exercise may take several forms. One of the most common forms is that of the “table top exercise.” This type of exercise involves the participants talking through a scenario. This is the level of exercise under a “functional exercise” that would involve an actual involvement by responders at the scene. The situation must be assessed and a determination made as to resources and assets needed. Generally, response is handled at the local level whenever possible. Extremely devastating and long term events may lead all the way to a presidential declaration, as in the case of Hurricane Katrina.
    Recently a table top exercise was conducted in Iron County that involved many agencies and responders. The principle partcipants were: the Iron County Medical Care Facility, TransCanada/Great Lakes Gas Transmission Company and local fire, police and EMS responders.
    The scenario tested was: a transmission line owned by TransCanada that runs in close proximity to the Medical Care Facility was breached by a person digging with a back hoe. A release of gas ensued and an ignition source caused a fire.
    This series of events caused two simultaneous table top exercises to occur. The Iron County Medical Care Facility conducted an exercise as to how they would handle the event. TransCanada and the emergency responders conducted a parallel exercise that dealt with how the transmission company and responders would handle the event.
    The exercises were separate but linked. TransCanada involved many of its staff from as far away as Texas.
    All participants believe that the exercise was

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