Utah County crews train for potential disaster

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PROVO -- If you saw police cars, ambulances and fire trucks, surrounding LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo Tuesday, don't worry. It was only a drill.

The training exercise was designed to get local, state and federal agencies working together. They all hope there never is a real disaster, but they want to be ready just in case.

"The likelihood of an incident happening here is really low," said Lance Madigan, spokesman for the Utah County Health Department. "On the other hand, if we were to have an incident, this would be a likely location; and so that is why we want to exercise here, so we would know what to do in a real situation."

The scenario was an international football game at the stadium in Provo. At first, emergency responders weren't sure if it was a chemical or biological attack.

Crews geared into protective suits and set up decontamination areas, preparing to check out thousands of possible victims. It gave them a chance to work together and find areas for improvement.

"In an incident of this size, we would be dealing with 60,000-plus people. We would definitely have to mobilize every asset we could: county sheriff, Utah County Health Department, Provo City fire and police, Orem, Red Cross and all the hospitals," Madigan says.

Hospitals were also part of the Tuesday's drill. The staff trained to keep potential victims who show up on their own from going inside the hospital and contaminating the medical facility. Instead, doctors and nurses treat the patients outside and make sure they are decontaminated.

At the end of the exercise, the responders all sat down and looked at areas they can improve.

E-mail: spenrod@ksl.com


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