County-wide disaster drill planned for Saturday

Steve Garrison The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The San Juan County Office of Emergency Management will stage a simulated disaster drill Saturday to test emergency response agencies in the region.

County Emergency Manager Don Cooper said from approximately 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. local, county and state agencies will be training at the Four Corners Regional Airport, San Juan College West in Kirtland, Navajo Preparatory School, the San Juan County Emergency Center in Aztec and the San Juan Regional Medical Center.

In the mock emergency scenario, two gas trucks belonging to the industrial gas company Praxair will be hijacked and crashed into San Juan College West and the airport, prompting the emergency response, according to Cooper.

Cooper said the hijackers at the airport will then flee to Navajo Prep and initiate a mock active shooter scenario.

"We have a full-scale disaster (drill) every year," Cooper said. "Our office puts it on, and we host different things around the county."

Cooper said his office has spent months organizing and planning the drill with fire and police agencies, the New Mexico National Guard, the American Red Cross and San Juan Regional EMS, among other organizations.

"It's important that we work together," Cooper said. "The police know how to do a car wreck. They do it everyday, but bringing everyone in ... and making it bigger than all of us, that is the plan."

Emergency responders will be in full uniform, and emergency vehicles will be active throughout the county Saturday morning.

The office of emergency management is urging residents to be aware of increased responder traffic in the county and to contact police and fire dispatch only in the case of an actual emergency.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644 and Follow him on Twitter @SteveGarrisonDT on Twitter.