Multiple Agencies Conduct Emergency Training at Fairgrounds
FILER, Idaho (KLIX) – Instead of pickup trucks and livestock coloring the Twin Falls County Fairgrounds, the site was filled with government vehicles, patrol cars, fire engines and a mobile communications center.
Multiple agencies gathered Wednesday at the fairgrounds for all-day training in the event of a chemical emergency. The training was one of two this week, and both following a tabletop exercise the agencies gathered for in February in Kimberly.
“You can’t help but be impressed with these guys,” said Lori Stewart, spokeswoman for the Twin Falls County Sheriff’s, as she took NewsRadio1310 on a tour of the training exercises.
While hazmat crews worked a make-believe chemical incident in one of the buildings, a communications crew worked inside a mobile unit of the Idaho State Police. The mobile communications center, based in Meridian, is funded by federal dollars and can be dispatched to various parts of the state depending on the emergency.
ISP Lt. Kevin Haight told Twin Falls County Sheriff Tom Carter, who was touring the trailer, that if an incident requires it he could request the unit at no cost to the county. In the event of an emergency, chemical or otherwise, the mobile center is used to bring all of the involved agencies together on one communications line.
Technology allows ISP to use a secured application on smartphones to communicate across departments and multiple agencies, while much of the brainpower in a real emergency happens inside the mobile center.
The trailer is used for a lot of training across the state, and has even traveled to Nevada and Canada. The training helps the teams prepare for a real emergency.
“It’s not a matter of it something happens but when,” Haight said, “whether it’s in the Magic Valley or up in Nez Perce country, sometime, sooner or later, we’re going to have something big that we’ll have to respond to.”
The 101st WMD Civil Support Team also was at the event, bringing its expert knowledge to the emergency scenario. The Boise-based 101st is composed of air and national guardsmen who are deployed to emergencies in various parts of the state.
“We’re citizen soldiers,” said Maj. Tony Vincelli, explaining that in the event of an emergency the unit comes into an area and follows the lead of the local incident commander, but in military fashion helps secure, protect and investigate the incident.
Vincelli said you always hope that an incident doesn’t happen, but it’s best to be prepared if it does. The training Wednesday helped put the various agencies on the same page.
“Agency training is absolutely my favorite,” said Sheriff Tom Carter.