(Note: The following describes a statewide emergency preparedness exercise. The disaster events outlined below did not occur.) glendale emergency

How do you prepare for a civil emergency that results in thousands of people killed and wholesale destruction of a large metropolitan area? To answer that question, Arizona state, county, and municipal authorities, in close coordination with the Arizona National Guard, ran a week-long simulation – Arizona Vigilant Guard – that ends on Sunday, 6 November.

Arizona Vigilant Guard involves 8,000 people from more than 200 federal, state, county and municipal agencies, and with National Guard assets from Arizona and surrounding states – California, Nevada, Colorado and Utah. It is the largest exercise of its kind in the U.S. The Arizona Division of Emergency Management (ADEM) is the lead Arizona agency. decon team

The exercise began with a simulated breach of the Waddell Dam north of Phoenix. Flood waters spilling into west Phoenix caused widespread flooding, civil disruption, and some evacuations. This first disaster was followed within days by the detonation of an improvised explosive nuclear device (IND) in downtown Phoenix. For this exercise, the IND was a 10 kiloton device that destroyed everything within a 2 mile radius of the blast, killing tens of thousands of individuals.

AZGS participated on Friday, the day following the detonation of the IND. In our role, we visited emergency operations centers at ADEM headquarters, Phoenix, and the Glendale Regional Public Safety Training Center (top photo). We observed hospital personnel at the Maricopa Integrated Health System treating victims – some real people and some blowup dolls (middle photo) -, some of whom arrived via Air National Guard Blackhawk helicopters. All victims were immediately taken to decontamination (decon) stations to have their clothing removed and to be thoroughly rinsed of any residual radiologic products. We observed, too, a simulated rescue from a carefully engineered rubble pile (immediately right).extradition team

The exercise ends today, 6 November, with a recovery tabletop exercise. After-action reports and analysis will go on for months.

See the East Valley Tribune for some additional information.

Mike Conway (6 November 2011)