Joint news release from the Pueblo Joint Information Center.
The Pueblo Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (CSEPP) exercise will be held on Tuesday, May 6. The exercise is scheduled to start at approximately 3 p.m. and conclude around 8 p.m. This annual event has been designed to test participants’ response capabilities to two simulated emergencies and to have that response effort federally evaluated.
Over a dozen agencies, local, state, and federal will demonstrate their capabilities in the afternoon exercise. Participants include the American Red Cross, ACOVA, Colorado Department of Public Safety, Pueblo Animal Services, Pueblo Parks Department, the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot, Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office, City of Pueblo Police and Fire Departments, Rye Fire Department, Pueblo West Fire Department, Pueblo Rural Fire Department, local hospitals and more.
The exercise scenario will involve a simulated chemical incident at the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot and another non-related emergency within the city limits of Pueblo. The mock events will be large enough to require the activation of the new Pueblo County Emergency Operations Center, the Pueblo Community Joint Information Center, field decontamination and treatment facilities, as well as shelters for displaced citizens and their household pets.
The public will see exercise related activity at several locations but should not be alarmed. The exercise may appear very realistic, responders will be dressed in full protective equipment and some actors who will be playing accident victims will receive realistic looking injury make-up. The majority of publically visible activity will be in the southwest corner of Pueblo City Park (Pueblo Boulevard and Thatcher Ave) but additional emergency equipment and vehicles will be deployed to the other sites including, the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot and Central High School.
To evaluate the community’s ability to notify the public in a timely manner, officials will launch a telephone call into the homes and businesses near Pueblo Boulevard and Thatcher Avenue the evening before the exercise. Responders will also practice door-to-door and patrol car public announcement capabilities during the events and the residents around the U.S. Army Pueblo Chemical Depot may hear tone alert radio activations and test tones from the sirens that surround the post.
Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office CSEPP Coordinator Carl Ballinger has seen two decades of CSEPP Exercises and knows the value of the evaluation process. “The ability to test our community plans and procedures, both in the field and in the operations centers has real value. In fact,” says Ballinger, “our new Emergency Services Center is a direct result of these exercises. This year’s off-post event is in a very visible field location at a busy time for emergency responders and on top of that, we are coordinating everything in a brand new building. We look forward to seeing how we handle the challenges all of those things present.”
The State Emergency Operations Center will also activate this afternoon in support of the full scale exercise.