ST. GEORGE — An emergency management infrastructure drill is being held in Southern Utah this week. Operations that seem military related could be seen across the county.
The public can expect to see emergency response vehicles, convoys of blue trucks, nondescript SUVs, military Humvee’s, and people in hazardous material suits at various locations, St. George Fire Captain Jason Whipple said in a statement released Tuesday.
“Fear not! This is only a drill,” Whipple said.
Known as Operation Red Rocks and hosted by the St. George Fire Department, the Utah National Guard’s 85th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, or WMD-CST, is in Southern Utah to assist in exercising various aspects of the emergency management infrastructure. This exercise seems to be developing into an annual multi-agency exercise, Whipple said.
The exercise this year will take place at multiple sites around the county. These sites include: Dixie State University, Red Cliffs Power Plant, Quail Creek Water Treatment Plant, the Old St. George Airport, and Desert Hills Storage.
Agencies involved include: St. George Fire Department, St. George Fire Department Bomb Squad, Washington County Office of Emergency Management, Washington County Water Conservancy District, Dixie Regional Medical Center, Gold Cross Ambulance Services, 85th WMD-CST – Utah National Guard, FEMA Region 8 Homeland Response Force – Utah National Guard, 8th WMD-CST – Colorado National Guard, 92nd WMD-CST – Nevada National Guard, 9th WMD-CST – California National Guard, and Booze-Allen-Hamilton.
Operation Red Rocks was originally developed as a way to foster a working relationship between local responders and the nearest WMD-CST located in Las Vegas. If an event occurred that required the special brand of services the WMD-CSTs provide, Nevada’s team would be able to reach the local area first.
“We really look forward to helping put this event together each year,” said Lieutenant Colonel Craig Bello, Commander of the 85th WMD-CST. “The overwhelming welcome and support we receive from government, responders, and private industry alike, displays exceptional patriotism and dedication to the citizenry of the area that make this community a model for the nation. Their open-mindedness and forward-thinking will pay dividends. I offer my sincerest gratitude, on behalf of the Utah National Guard, for the selfless donation of so many of the resources of this area from current, as well as past participants” Bello said.
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