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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    200 safety workers participate in security drill

    A paramedic with the Tucson Fire Department hoses off one of the simulated victims in yesterdays emergency response drill held near Coconino Hall. Various agencies from around the county took part in the yearly exercise. (photo by chris coduto/arizona daily wildcat)
    A paramedic with the Tucson Fire Department hoses off one of the simulated victims in yesterday’s emergency response drill held near Coconino Hall. Various agencies from around the county took part in the yearly exercise. (photo by chris coduto/arizona daily wildcat)

    emergency exercise

    Caution tape, fire trucks and police cars greeted thousands of UA students and faculty yesterday as they were evacuated from their classrooms and dormitories as part of an annual campus emergency response team exercise.

    The exercise, which police called one of the largest planned emergency exercises in Pima County’s history, saw more than 200 emergency response personnel from the city, state and federal levels participate in a mock situation involving more than a dozen student volunteer actors from the UA.

    During a debriefing held in Gallagher Theater in the afternoon, Dean of Students Melissa Vito said the event improved in communications and logistics compared to past years’ exercises.

    Yesterday’s event was made possible by a $50,000 grant from U.S. Homeland Security. The event began shortly after 10 a.m., when a “”tipster”” reported that two suspicious individuals of Middle Eastern decent were inside the Civil Engineering building, 1209 E. Second St., inspecting the facility’s Nuclear Reactor Lab.

    Five minutes later, the first responders arrived to find the suspects were gone but had left behind two pieces of paper with supposed Arabic writing; police eventually deciphered the writing as Peruvian gibberish.

    Shortly after the initial incident, police blocked off an entire section of East Second Street from North Park Avenue to North Olive Road and quarantined multiple buildings when University of Arizona Police Department’s first responders were contaminated after investigating a report of students feeling ill with symptoms including dizziness and foaming at the mouth. The students at Slonaker House and Coconino Residence Hall reported three suspicious individuals were working in and around the area.

    “”We witnessed three guys spraying, dressed as exterminators,”” said Charlie Kuoni, a Kappa Alpha fraternity member and volunteer role-player. “”We called 911 – and we actually called 911 – and they dispatched the response team.””

    Once the contaminated students and officers were evacuated from the buildings, each had to undergo a series of decontamination processes by Tucson Fire Department’s hazardous materials management team.

    “”We put on the red poncho, went into the front stall, where we were supposed to take off all our clothes and take a shower,”” said Kenneth Hunn, a Kappa Alpha fraternity member who was asked by ROTC to participate.

    At a command post assembled in front of the Douglas Building, 1100 E. University Blvd., emergency response team commanders coordinated the exercise and relayed information throughout campus to the various teams.

    For students living at Yuma Residence Hall, 1107 E. James E. Rogers Way, the emergency exercise came without much warning as they were evacuated rather abruptly, said Sarah Nelson, a biochemistry freshman. Additional buildings evacuated include Manzanita-Mohave Residence Hall, the Music building, the Art and Drama buildings and Gila Residence Hall.

    Other emergency response organizations involved in the event included the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, Rural Metro Fire Department, Southwest Ambulance, Marana Police Department, Regional SWAT and Pima County Office of Emergency Management.

    “”What exactly was going to occur was known only by a group of about 20 committee planners,”” said Brian Seastone, the UAPD Police Commander. “”We’re testing the incident command system, getting hands-on experience in triage and how to identify, report, contain and communicate.””

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