San Juan County Fire Division Chief Laura Hensley applies moulage makeup to a volunteer participant in preparation for the San Juan County emergency drill
San Juan County Fire Division Chief Laura Hensley applies moulage makeup to a volunteer participant in preparation for the San Juan County emergency drill on Saturday at the college. (Courtesy of San Juan College)

FARMINGTON — Emergency first-responders received a call Saturday morning about a problem on San Juan College's campus that, had it been real, would have left dozens of people dead and injured. But because they arrived quickly, hours later, the campus and industries in San Juan County were safe and secure.

The incident was part of a county-wide emergency response drill.

"It was actually very well-coordinated," said San Juan College President Toni Pendergrass.

In this year's scenario, a group of people in one of the college's programs are arrested and expelled after getting caught with methamphetamines. In retaliation, two of the people shoot students at two locations on campus. At the same time, two people from the group also bomb a facility of local energy company Kinder Morgan.

While the campus has never experienced anything of the degree practiced in the drill, Rhonda Schaeffer, the college's director of public relations, said the drill helps responders refine their response.

"You never know exactly what's going to happen," Pendegrass said. "But I think being prepared is the key."

Kim Carpenter, the county executive officer, said the assessment helps determine weaknesses.

"This works out the chaotic variables," Carpenter said.

Carpenter said that if the county just sat back and assumed these scenarios would never happen, then the county won't be prepared if something did occur.

"We are as prepared as we possibly can be," Carpenter said.

In addition to police, fire department, college and energy industry officials, volunteer responders also participated.

"Volunteers are extremely invaluable," Carpenter said.

He said people interested in becoming volunteer fire fighters can call the county at 505-334-9481 and ask for the fire department.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and hgrover@daily-times.com. Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.