Personnel from Blue Mountain Hospital and San Juan County, along with Utah Navajo Health Systems, Inc. and several other agencies will participate in one of the largest joint-agency emergency exercises ever held in San Juan County on September 18.
Blue Mountain Hospital and San Juan County Emergency Services have taken the lead in planning the exercise known as Operation Wildfire Full Scale Exercise (FSE) 2014. This emergency exercise will involve agencies and personnel from throughout San Juan County, including, Blue Mountain Hospital, Utah Navajo Health System, Inc., San Juan County Sheriff, San Juan County Emergency Medical Services, County Fire and Communications Services, San Juan County Hospital, Blanding City, Blanding Fire, Bluff Fire, Monticello Fire, Eagle Air Med, Classic Life Flight, Utah State Fire, San Juan Behavioral Health and San Juan Mortuary.
The purpose of this exercise is to evaluate the actions of participating agen- cies against current response plans and capabilities for such an incident response. The Operation Wildfire planning team explains that the exercise requires the simulated estab- lishment of an emergency operation and the actions usually associated with response to this type of incident, including command and control, communications, and other actions.
The exercise will begin at noon on September 18, and all communication concerning the exercise will begin and end with the words, "This is an exercise." The exercise will end at 2:00 p.m., but it can be stopped if there is an actual emergency in the exercise area. Real-world emergencies will take precedent over the exercise if they happen. After the exercise there will be an opportunity for staff, and the public to come and tour the Blue Med Tent which will be set up at Blue Mountain Hospital for the exercise.
The hope is that this exercise will not interfere with the normal activities of residents in San Juan County or the traveling public. San Juan County Sheriff's Office says no roads are expected to be closed for the exercise. The planning team wishes to inform the public about this exercise in advance so residents are aware that it is being held, and is not an actual emergency or disaster. These joint exercises allow emergency and healthcare agencies to properly prepare to handle such incidents and other disasters, should they occur. The bus accident near Mexican Hat in January 2008, that killed 9 passengers and injured many others, and the Montezuma Creek CO incident in 2013, are prime examples of the types of incidents that require joint-collaboration between agencies in San Juan County, and why they prepare with such exercises.