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Published October 06, 2010, 05:26 PM

Local Authorities Prepare For the Case of an Emergency

What should local officials do if there's a deadly chemical threatening hundreds of people in Grand Forks?

What should local officials do if there's a deadly chemical threatening hundreds of people in Grand Forks?

That's what Grand Forks firefighters, along with other authorities, prepared for Wednesday.

Putting on a Hazmat suit is the first step for Grand Forks firefighter Brian Geatz to figure out what hypothetically killed three people in the training exercise.

The scenario for the exercise at the Alerus Center was that three football players died and several others were sent to the hospital from some dangerous chemical.

"We're simulating that there was an out-of state football team coming in," Jeff Taylor, the Deputy Division Chief and Operations Officer for Charlie Division U.S. Army North, said.

Taylor is part of a U.S. Army North team that came from Texas to oversee the exercise. The 81st Civil Support Team of the North Dakota National Guard also worked with local authorities to figure out where and what the dangerous chemical is.

"Communication is always a challenge whether we're talking from fire to EMS or fire to police, just within the local community," said Taylor.

That communication is even more difficult when in a Hazmat suit.

"It can get pretty hot because obviously the suits don't breathe. It gets pretty cumbersome, heavy," Firefighter Geatz said.

Still Geatz says the more he suits up, the better. That way if there is an actual emergency, he'll be ready.

"Stuff that seems easy, just even picking something up off the table, is pretty difficult with these things on, so the more you practice the better," Geatz said.

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