Homeland Security Exercises Will Take Place In Powell
Written by Mac Watson on June 12, 2023
Gunshots, low-flying aircraft, flashing lights, emergency response vehicles, and military vehicles will converge on Northwest College in Powell on June 14th .
On Wednesday, Northwest College is hosting a full-scale Mass Casualty Training Exercise. Different agencies from Wyoming will be present, including the combined law enforcement of the Park County Sheriff’s Office, Powell Police, and Cody Police, as well as the Big Horn Basin Healthcare Coalition, and the Wyoming National Guard.
The Mass Casualty Training Exercise will require numerous local and regional resources to contain a hazmat emergency combined with an active shooter drill. Multiple agencies will send first responders and specialty teams, as well as experienced pilots to control the aircraft also attending.
With this training, it is expected that there will be an increase in emergency preparedness for all levels and promote cooperation as well as communication between agencies during disasters.
In total, there are expected to be over 300 participants, making it the biggest multi-agency training that Northwest College has ever hosted. Cody physician Elise Lowe, who is also the Big Horn Basin Healthcare Coalition’s physician adviser and a member of the Park County Search and Rescue, says, “There have been multi-agency trainings in the past, including another hosted by Northwest College in 2016, but this will be the first of this magnitude and breadth.”
“Disasters in rural areas like the Big Horn Basin require communities and responders to work together across many jurisdictions. Nobody has the infrastructure to do it alone. These types of training bring us together operationally,” Dr. Lowe adds.
As part of the Vigilant Guard training sponsored by the U.S. Northern Command, the National Guard will conduct numerous exercises in multiple Wyoming counties including Campbell, Crook, Johnson, Laramie, Natrona, Park, Platte, Sheridan, and Weston. The purpose of the intensive training is to strengthen collaboration, communication, and coordination, as well as to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of the National Guard to respond to real-life, active situations.
Dr. Lowe will be coordinating with Jeff Martin, the Park County Emergency Manager for the Department of Homeland Security, to direct the event at the college.
“Our law enforcement responders are committed to training together and addressing any barriers to communication between agencies so we can have a coordinated response to these types of incidents,” Martin explains. He then emphasizes the enormity of a project of this magnitude, calling it a “once in a generation” opportunity for training. As he speaks about the upcoming event, and the dedication of the participants, his optimism is palpable.
This “better safe than sorry” approach will benefit everyone, from the military, to first responders, to law enforcement and its agencies as well as citizens.
So if you’re are in Powell, specifically around the campus of Northwest College on Wednesday, know that the noises you hear and the chaos you may witness is actually a good thing for Park County and the state of Wyoming. Jeff Martin wants to assure Powell residents that despite the loud, raucous bedlam, the responders and troops are practicing how to protect you, your neighbors and the citizens of Park County in the event that dangerous situations should ever arise.