For those living in Pueblo or Pueblo County, you may have noticed an increase in emergency response traffic Wednesday. But don't be alarmed, it was just training.
The skills of hundreds of first responders and emergency personnel from Pueblo County were tested both in the field and behind the scenes. Two mock emergencies took place. At the state fairgrounds victims were exposed to an unknown chemical, and underwent a mass decontamination and received medical treatment.
Meanwhile another "emergency" was taking place at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot. The Pueblo County Sheriff's Office Emergency Services Bureau used both events to test the capabilities of the Emergency Operations Center and the Pueblo Community Joint Information Center. At those locations they gathered and shared details of the emergencies with law enforcement in the field and the public. The Pueblo County Sheriff's Office Emergency Services Bureau used both exercises to test its capabilities. They say it's a vital exercise held every year by the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program.
“We take this very seriously. Events like this can happen at any point in time. All the scenarios that we use in our exercises are real world type scenarios that could happen at any moment and allows our first responders to be active and ready to go at a moment’s notice," said Pueblo West Fire Chief Brian Caserta.
Representatives from local, state, and federal agencies from all over the country came to observe and evaluate. They will release a report to offer the county some recommendations on how they handled the incident. The large-scale exercise is federally funded.
Staff and volunteers of the Colorado Division of Emergency Management, Pueblo County Board of County Commissioners, Colorado State Patrol, Pueblo Fire Department, Pueblo Rural Fire Department, Pueblo West Fire Department, St. Mary Corwin Medical Center, Parkview Medical Center, American Medical Response, Risk Communications Network, American Red Cross, Pueblo School District 70, Salvation Army, Pueblo Behavioral Health Teams, Pueblo City/County Health Department, and ACOVA all took part in the exercises.