Minnesota DPS HSEM hosts radiological emergency preparedness drill

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety's (DPS) Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) recently hosted its annual radiological emergency preparedness exercise to prepare for emergencies.

HSEM conducted the drill, which consisted of a simulated attack by armed terrorists, on July 29 at the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant in Red Wing, Minn. The drill was meant to ensure the government and responders are able to handle natural or man-made disasters. The scenario was developed by XCel Energy and HSEM staff.

During the exercise, the HSEM opened the State Emergency Operations Center for the representatives from dozens of state agencies, military organizations, local governments and nonprofit entities to communicate with each other during the unfolding situation.

The participants implemented different parts of the HSEM's disaster preparedness plan during new developments in the scenario, such as road conditions, missing nuclear plant staff and wind direction. The plan allows the disaster management agencies to move school children, protect livestock, close highways and evacuate residents in areas compromised by radiation.

"There are decades of training, detailed planning and careful execution behind these exercises," the HSEM said. "Assuring people's safety is not a one-day event. Participants in year-round planning include hospitals, schools, reception centers, decontamination centers, field teams, laboratory facilities, and every type of service and facility necessary to protect Minnesota citizens living in proximity to one of the nuclear generating plants."

FEMA representatives plan to evaluate more than 2,000 aspects of Minnesota's radiological emergency preparedness plan and exercise.