Training exercise tests Ottumwa's emergency response plan

Different departments act out a hazmat situation to test the city's emergency response plan.

A training exercise simulating a disaster puts Ottumwa's emergency plans to the test.

An instructor from the Fort Dodge Fire Department visited Monday to simulate two hazmat situations. The first placed an ammonia spill at the intersection of Wapello Street and Fourth Street. Members from the city, fire department, police department, sheriff's office, ambulance service and dispatch were all represented. Each group plays a different role in a response to that type of situation.

Monday's exercise was played out in real-time and maps of the city were used to visualize the space available.

"The more real-time information we can put in, the more legitimate the incident feels like, or the exercise," said Josh Stevens, Wapello County Emergency Management. "Obviously, there's a lot of artificialities, but if we can make it as real as possible, folks get more out of it."

Next, each department takes what they learned from the simulation and can make changes to its emergency response plan.

Stevens said the training also helps determine the resources and changes needed in the future.