Agencies put to test in national full-scale exercise

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. At 7:00 a.m. Tuesday, multiple agencies responded to a crash involving a diesel tanker and a semi truck, but it was only a test.

Grand Junction is hosting a full-scale national exercise over the course of three days.

"We had some real interest in the part of the emergency people in the county, local county, and in the state of Colorado, so it was a good marriage," said Joseph Krol of the National Nuclear Security Administration.

In the scenario, the semi truck was said to have been carrying hazardous material for the Department of Energy, calling in federal agents to practice dealing with a high-risk incident alongside local responders.

"I would say that the facilities that you have here in Grand Junction are the best facilities that we've seen," Krol said. "This building and the way the police and fire department have opened their arms and given us places to operate from, it's been very, very good."

Public information officers practiced their own procedures to get accurate information out to the public with the Joint Information Center set up at the Grand Junction Police Department.

"To do it in a live scenario so we can streamline those processes," said Dan Chermok, of Colorado State Patrol." Get all those agencies working together that normally talk to each other and open those communication channels."

The Department of Energy had been working with local agencies to set up the scenario for the past year.

The three day training drill was the first of its kind here on the Western Slope giving local, state and federal agencies the opportunity to better emergency response procedures.

"We're very happy when we have a long list of things to correct because when you spend the kind of money we're spending on this exercise and you walk away and say it was perfect, something's wrong," Krol said.

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