Northern Exposure Exercise This Week

Exercising response efforts on a large scale helps first responder develop a better understanding of what each of our agencies would need to do in a time of disaster. Kent County/Grand Rapids Emergency Management Coordinator Jack Stewart reminds residents that Exercise Northern Exposure is scheduled for June 23-27, 2015. This exercise is intended to help responders at all levels to coordinate and communicate together.

The exercise will simulate an explosion of a “Dirty Bomb” (Improvised Nuclear Device) in Grand Rapids. The exercise will be mostly run by Department of Public Works, HAZ-MAT teams, and Fire/Rescue personnel, using the Butterworth Yard Waste Facility in Grand Rapids and Crestwood Middle School in Kentwood. “While there will be occasions when trucks and helicopters will be visible, they should not impede local traffic,” Stewart said. “We do not expect the exercise to interrupt daily activities.”

Training will be restricted to daylight hours. Plans for the scenarios involve smoke, debris, and other disaster-related items intended to make the exercise as realistic as possible. “Those who live near Butterworth Yard Waste and Crestwood Middle School may notice activity June 24 and 25, but most people in Kent County will not see the exercise unless they see it in the news,” Stewart added.

Selected locations for the exercise are considered low-traffic areas. Local hospitals will participate, but the exercise will not impact patient traffic.