A figurative bomb was set to go off in Little Falls today.
At noon, Morrison County officials at the sheriff's department planned to see what would happen, in theory, if a bomb exploded during the Little Falls Arts and Crafts Fair.
Here's the drill scenario:
A 1985 Ford van is parked in downtown Little Falls as fair participants are setting up their booths for the fair. The Little Falls Police Department receives a complaint about the van.
As the police officer is calling the license plate number into the dispatcher, the van explodes, taking out a city block. About 175 people are killed in the blast and another 125 seriously injured.
Forty-five families will lose their homes and a nearby senior citizen apartment building will need to be evacuated.
Victims who survive and people within the area of the blast start getting sick. The bomb is believed to have released a chemical substance.
It's what is called a "table-top" drill, in that the explosion and its victims will only exist on a piece of paper, said Dianne Werkman, Morrison County management coordinator.
"It's actually an Emergency Operations Center functional drill, without actual response and different stuff going on outside the building," said Werkman. "We won't actually have people responding, or running down the street or dead bodies made up."
The purpose of the drill is to create a response plan to such a scenario, said Werkman. Those expected to participate today included officials from Camp Ripley, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the business community, city and county government officials, the Morrison County attorney's office, emergency medical personnel, public health administration, the State Patrol, city and county law enforcement, area fire departments and the American Red Cross.
The drill will address coordination with the Emergency Operations Center, mutual aid from surrounding agencies, security of the site, search and rescue efforts in the blast area, how to deal with onlookers and what to do with the dead.
Also addressed will be how to manage the chemical aspect of the explosion -- determining what chemical was used, decontaminating adjoining buildings of hazardous materials, setting up a triage site and deciding how the landfill will be used to store contaminated debris.
Communications between emergency management personnel and the hospital, as well as possible alternate uses of communication also will be part of the drill.
Werkman planned for about 70 people to participate.
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