Tuesday, Apr 20, 2010
Mount Rushmore National Memorial conducted a disaster response training exercise on Thursday, April 8th, in cooperation with local partner agencies.
Tying in with South Dakota National Guard’s expertise in identifying agents or substances at a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or high explosive incidents, the park is strengthening local partnerships that are vital in handling any real-life disaster situation.
The exercise simulated a realistic hazardous material scenario to prepare park staff and area agencies for different real-life situations. The disaster response exercise began with park staff identifying a hazardous situation at the park. Park staff then called on the South Dakota National Guard’s 82nd Civil Support Team (CST) to assist in the situation, and the CST quickly set up an incident command center at the park. National Guard soldiers worked through their protocols for a hazardous material situation and carried out the full, real-time process for handling the situation.
Mount Rushmore and the National Guard used this experience to learn how the agencies can better prepare for disaster situations. The real-time exercise gave park staff and National Guard soldiers an idea of how long mobilization, survey, and action take in these kinds of situations. They will use this information to improve response time, create a more efficient disaster response process, and to provide the best visitor safety possible.
Mount Rushmore will continue working with area agencies to improve disaster preparedness. Superintendent Gerard Baker is committed to performing more exercises like the one held on Thursday to better prepare the park for all situations.
“We appreciate the partnerships we have with our local agencies,” said Baker. “These realistic training exercises ensure that we are ready for any potential real situation.”