Vermont tests disaster skills in a catastrophic exercise

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More than 500 responders and 20 state agencies are taking part in a catastrophic exercise from October 23-25. Towns and agencies put their disaster skills to the test. This is the fourth time in ten years that Vermont has done this. Unlike other exercises in the past, this one simulates the aftermath on a major scale on the scale of Tropical Storm Irene.

Erica Bornemann is the Director of Vermont Emergency Manegement. “The purpose of doing a large exercise and having it in a catastrophic environment is to really test all of the systems and stress all the systems and find where the gaps are,” said Bornemann.

At the Emergency Management Center in Waterbury, people from different agencies and sectors collect data, and dispatch help. Bornemann told Local 22 and 44 that they also have people in the field doing management on a transportation level. They have people cleaning up hazardous material spills, searching for missing people, and restoring infrastructure.

The Vermont Agency of Transportation played a huge role in the exercise with about 130 employees taking part.

“We are this incredibly important infrastructure sector that all other infrastructure sectors rely on to do their job,” said V-Trans Emergency Management Director Todd Sears.

The Vermont agency of transportation exercised its new statewide effort called Incident Command System. According to Sears, the system is nationally recognized as the best way to organize incident response. He said there is a commander and four sections that work on operations, planning, logistics, and finance and admin.

The new system allows the Agency of Transportation to be proactive and have all teams in place if a disaster were to occur. The Agency also tested a new drone program that will help assist things like decision making and flight operations.

Transportation Secretary Joe Flynn says this week’s task is all about practice.

“This isn’t a pass fail it’s all learn learn learn,” said Flynn.

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