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Operation Problem Powder to take place in Plains

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Unfortunately, disasters often strike without warning. They can be limited in scope or reach catastrophic proportions. They can affect isolated areas as well as sweep through multiple jurisdictions, affecting lives, property and the environment. To prepare for these unlikely events, communities across the country regularly hold emergency preparedness exercises.

These exercises simulate an event, or series of events, to test emergency response systems and interagency coordination. Communications, technology, existing resources, knowledge and skills are tested to see if the current systems work and determine what improvements need to be made.

Being prepared to respond to and recover from emergencies is a big responsibility and a continual challenge, especially in rural areas like Western Montana.

The Sanders County Office of Emergency Management (EOM) along with representatives from Clark Fork Valley Hospital, the Sanders County Health Department, local law enforcement and Sanders County emergency response agencies (ambulance, fire, etc.) will conduct a one day disaster simulation exercise known as Operation Problem Powder on Saturday, October 2nd. The exercise will be held in Plains in the vicinity of the Post Office and on the main Clark Fork Valley Hospital campus from 9 am to noon.

"The exercise is designed to challenge our emergency response systems and ultimately improve disaster preparedness in Sanders County," shared Bill Naegeli, Sanders County Emergency Manager. "Specifically, the exercise will evaluate the ability of Sanders County emergency response agencies to effectively establish and control incident management activities in response to a hazmat incident and test the hospital's capability of handling a large number of trauma patients after a large scale incident."

Daily hospital and Plains Family Medicine operations will not be affected and services will be offered as normal. The public may however experience some street closures around the Post Office and Grainery Gallery, specifically on Lynch Street from Walnut to Central Street, Central Street from Hwy 200 to Meany Street and a portion of Old Airport Rd. Persons wishing to get mail should access the Post Office from Meany Street.

Citizens are encouraged to not call 9-1-1 concerning this event, as the 9-1-1 dispatch center is already aware and participating in the exercise that is taking place.

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