The Hand County Sheriff’s Office and Emergency Management will be holding the annual full-scale exercise on Thursday, Sept. 26, at 4:30 p.m. in the Hand County Courthouse. This year the exercise will be a mock disaster at the courthouse, which causes several injuries to personnel and patrons in the courthouse.
As a requirement of the State and Local Agreement that the county enters into every year with the South Dakota Office of Emergency Management, the county is required to complete one full-scale exercise per year. A “full-scale exercise” involves the actual use of machinery and manpower by responders to complete objectives for the exercise.
Last year the full-scale exercise was a couple of missing persons from St. Lawrence, in which responders actively searched for two people that we had purposely go missing.
Exercises provide an opportunity to truly test our first responders on a yearly basis with a real-life scenario. The exercises require coordination across departments from law enforcement to fire to EMS. These exercises are run through an incident command system, which is similar to how a business operates. In a business you have an administrator/manager/boss (i.e. commander) that is in charge of the overall business; you then have supervisors and mid-level managers (i.e. section chiefs) that make sure the goals the administrator has are being met; and finally you have front-line staff (i.e. the folks actually completing the tasks). This structure allows for first responders to manage events from small accidents all the way up to large-scale fires.
The hospital will be participating in the exercise as well, so we will have possible “injured” patients transferred to the hospital to see how well hospital personnel can handle a larger influx of patients, providing that there are no actual emergencies that come up during the exercise.
The courthouse will closed at 4:15 p.m. on September 26 to prepare for the exercise to start at 4:30 p.m. The exercise will run from 4:30 to 9 p.m.
After the exercise, responders will gather to discuss the event. The area around the courthouse may be closed off to traffic during the exercise.