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Emergency responders being tested

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 by Jolene Toves

Guam - The Kontra I Piligru exercise kicked off in full gear this morning testing the capabilities of our island's first responders, preparing them for real life world experiences.

At 6:30 Tuesday morning Kontra I Piligru kicked off as emergency responders had to respond to a simulated downed aircraft, activating the Guam Fire Department. Chief Joey San Nicolas told KUAM News, "Once we immediately get dispatched via fire dispatcher we received a 911 call we normally send out our first alarm which consists of two fire trucks and an ambulance to conduct an assessment set up an incident command at command post as well as triage for any victims or patients that we may encounter."

San Nicolas says in situations such as this the first arriving unit establishes the incident command post, conducts an assessment and compares it to the resources on hand to determine if back up is necessary. "If it appears that we are overwhelmed then we start asking for additional help other factors also play a part like if we know this is a military aircraft we automatically inform he military and request their assistance if they are able t assist outside the gate," he added.

Within one hour the second scenario went into play testing the Guam Memorial Hospital's ability to cope with various scenarios. GMH administrator Joseph Verga said, "There were actually active shooter there was an explosion there was a helicopter crash so there were multiple scenarios that we were managing today and these exercises are not only important to improve but to identify what works well what doesn't work well where we need to improve and many of these things often comes down to communication."

Then tuesday afternoon the exercise shut down a portion of marine drive as the Guam Police Department, us Marshals Homeland Security, Federal Protective Service and court security officers worked to secure the perimeter of the District Court. US Marshal Frank Leon Guerrero said, "In the emergency response situation well first of all right directly across the US District Court there was a simulated explosion of a vehicle that detonated prior to a suspect running across the street we identified him to be an active shooter dropped a suspicious package in front of the building we secured the building and apprehended the active shooter," he explained.

According to Leon Guerrero because there was a suspicious package those within the court house sheltered in place to maintain security and allow responders to identify if there were any other threats. "Any time there is a perceived threat to the building we have multiple layers of security we identify that immediately with the explosion that was identified across the street we focused our security threats towards the front of the building," he said.

And while all of these activities where taking place behind the scenes at the Emergency Operations Center and the Joint Information Center in Agana Heights, their capabilities were also tested as they compiled the information received from the various scenarios and disseminated it to the public.

It is exercises such as Kontra I Piligru that are crucial in identifying gaps in our Emergency Response System whether it is a downed aircraft an active shooter or even a car explosion this experience that they gain through this exercise will ensure that they are better able to respond should a real emergency occur. 
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