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Simulated exercises test emergency management

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Emergency management is put to test during simulated exercises conducted today in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

These simulations, however, present a challenge for first responders to be ready for any emergency situation.

In Trumbull county the exercise started out with just a police call about a car colliding with a tanker truck, but quickly became more serious.

"It becomes more than just a police incident, it becomes a fire incident with the fire department," says Mike Wilson of the Local Emergency Planning Committee. "Because there's chemicals involved, it becomes a Haz-Mat incident and becomes a full blown emergency exercise."

In Mahoning County a simulated fatal accident also involving hazardous materials put the emergency operations center into full gear.

To make the exercise more challenging, organizers created new incidents without warning.

"They keep throwing out problems; this happens, that happens, water mains break. The fire trucks can't get in, you've got somebody trapped in a truck with hazardous materials," says Clark Jones of Mahoning County Emergency Management.

"Things we put in to the incident to try to trop up people to see what they're doing and how they react to it," says Wilson.

Incidents like the bombings in Boston dramatize the need for on-going training that brings different agencies together.

"We realize how much we have to be involved and how much our first responders need to be prepared," Wilson says.

Jones says, "It all gives us a chance to work with partners that we don't work with often enough."

Those participating say the exercises make everyone better prepared to work together in emergency conditions.

"It's a great opportunity, great learning experience, for us to come out and get it back to the station and see what we do good and what we need to work on," says Howland Fire Chief James Pantalone.

This exercise is also monitored and reviewed by state evaluators.

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