Conard High School grounds will be off-limits to the public during the full-scale drill planned for Saturday, May 13, 2023.
By Ronni Newton
Town officials have advised that the West Hartford Fire Department and Office of Emergency Management will be conducting the largest full-scale disaster drill in town history on Saturday, May 13, 2023, at Conard High School.
A training drill held on April 14, also at Conard, was intended to be training for the full-scale drill, and FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies involved, provided feedback which has been incorporated into plans for the full-scale drill on May 13, which FEMA will be evaluating.
Conard High School will be closed to the public on Saturday between the hours of 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. A heavy presence of police and fire officials will be visible onsite as part of the exercise.
West Hartford has taken over for East Hartford as a host community for residents of Montville and Waterford if they ever are forced to evacuate due to an incident at Millstone Nuclear Power Plant. Conard High School serves as West Hartford’s emergency shelter.
The initial portion of the drill will involve set-up of the site prior to the arrival of “evacuees.”
West Hartford emergency operations crews will be processing vehicles, people, and pets in the simulated disaster operation, Public Relations Specialist Renée McCue advised, initially checking to see if any hazardous materials are present.
The drill will include operation of queues to check for contamination, distribution of wipes intended to remove contaminants, use of temporary inflatable shower stalls for additional decontamination, and the establishments of reunification zones for family members and friends. Counseling and placement services will be reviewed.
According to McCue, pets will be part of the drill, and also subject to decontamination and, if needed, isolation.
In the event of an actual disaster, any individuals who still exhibit signs of radioactive contamination after showering will be transported to the hospital for further treatment.
According to Town Manager Rick Ledwith, about 150 staff, volunteers and role players from seven town departments and eight outside agencies including FEMA, State Department of Emergency Management & Homeland Security, American Red Cross, Connecticut Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, and Dominion Energy were involved in the practice training drill and will also be involved in the full-scale drill.
More information about the Host Community Program can be found on the state’s Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security website.
Questions about the training exercises can be directed to the Office of Emergency Management at [email protected].
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