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Be prepared: County plans big disaster drill

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Be prepared: County plans big disaster drill
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

On Wednesday, Sept. 10, Becker County residents may notice an unusual amount of law enforcement and rescue worker activity as the afternoon comes to a close.

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The good news is that, while the catastrophic events that unfold over the police scanner that evening will seem to be all too real -- this time, it really is just a drill.

More than 30 law enforcement, emergency services, fire and rescue, hospital, community health and human services agencies will be involved in what Becker County Sheriff Tim Gordon says is "the largest county-wide disaster drill to date."

Speaking to the Becker County Board Tuesday, Gordon said, "Never before has it (the annual county disaster drill) been on this scope."

On Thursday, Rusty Haskins, emergency management services director for Becker County, elaborated on Gordon's statement, noting, "It will be the largest disaster drill that our county has ever conducted. We are anticipating 300 players from over 30 different agencies will be involved."

Emergency services, hospitals and law enforcement agencies from four neighboring counties -- Clay, Otter Tail, Mahnomen and Norman -- have also tentatively agreed to participate, Haskins noted.

The Soo Pass Ranch south of Detroit Lakes -- home of the annual 10,000 Lakes Festival and WE Fest celebrations -- will be the host site for the drill. Haskins said the location was ideal because it contained "a nice mix of woods, open land, rolling hills, water -- even railroad tracks."

The disaster drill will encompass at least seven different scenarios, covering every possible type of emergency that could occur -- from hazardous materials containment to water rescue to helicopter transportation of victims to vehicle extrication from both motor homes and regular cars.

The Becker County Dive Rescue teams and County Horse Posse will also be utilized.

"We're going to try to put as much stress on the system as we can ... to look for strengths and weaknesses within it," Haskins said, adding that the ultimate goal of the disaster drill is to identify those weaknesses and eliminate them, "So we will be prepared for the possibility if a large-scale (catastrophic) event were to impact the area."

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Vicki Gerdes
Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 14 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as obituaries. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.
(218) 844-1454
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