Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News
Kalona, Iowa
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Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News

November 1, 2018 First training drill was ‘like real thing’
Article Pages -- as published on the The Kalona News website.

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ARTICLE DESCRIPTION:

For Washington County Emergency Management Coordinator Marissa Reisen, the full scale drill Oct. 13 was close as to facing terrorist attack as a simulation could get.

Some six months in the planning, the drill not only had an attack, but included a “real” review of what went right and what went wrong.

“You learn as much from what went wrong as what went right,” she observed of the review session that came after “all the excitement.”

She added that the review was honest.

When it was all over, Reisen went home exhausted but convinced county personnel met the challenge.

The drill’s scenario featured an explosion in a lab in the Kirkwood Community College Regional Center, where the target was not students but emergency responders called because of the blast.

In May, Resien and other EMS personnel took part in the Active Threat Integrated Response course in Muscatine County, geared to teaching how to integrate all emergency services while also seeking an active dangerous shooter.

“You have to consider all possibilities,” she said, acknowledging that for the three months prior to Oct. 13, “I stressed about it, going over details and details” yet trusted that all the departments involved had the focus and skills to handle it. “Which they did.”

“We had 20 Kirkwood students and personnel who were ‘victims’ with injuries, but no fatalities,” she explained.

Responding to the call were members of the Washington Police Department, Washington Fire Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Department, Washington County Ambulance, Wellman Ambulance, Iowa State Patrol, Ainsworth Fire Department and UI AirCare.

“There is no doubt it was an accomplishment” for all who took part with feedback, especially about what went wrong, providing “how not to go in blind.”

While it was a controlled situation in that no explosives or weapons were real, the drill was predicated on the simple realization “it could happen here,” that preparedness is the real weapon.

There will be some other smaller drills, she said, but no major one is envisioned for at least a year.

The plan is also to have drills in other parts of the county so that every EMS group receives preparedness training, including severe weather situations.

The county, last week, was named Storm Service Ready by the National Weather Service with officials calling it “a great step forward.”

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