First responders participate in full-scales exercises with National Guard in Jamestown

May 11—JAMESTOWN — The full-scales exercises with the North Dakota National Guard on Tuesday, May 7, and Thursday, May 9, in Jamestown are a good learning experience for local law enforcement officers, according to Scott Edinger, chief of police with the Jamestown Police Department.

"This isn't an opportunity we get all the time to train with these guys," Edinger said.

Personnel from the Jamestown Police Department, Stutsman County Sheriff's Office, Jamestown Fire Department, Jamestown Rural Fire Department and Jamestown Area Ambulance participated in the exercises along with the North Dakota National Guard's 81st Civil Support Team from Bismarck and the Jamestown Regional Medical Center.

"We are definitely happy to work with the National Guard on this and happy they came here for training," said Chad Kaiser, Stutsman County sheriff. "It helps all of us here."

The U.S. Army North (Fifth Army), a component of the U.S. Northern Command, put on the event, said Andrew Kirking, Stutsman County emergency manager/911 coordinator. He said the exercises are done all over the state and region and Jamestown was picked as a site.

The exercises took place at the North Dakota Farmers Union Camp on Tuesday and at the Stutsman County Fairgrounds on Thursday.

The simulated exercises focused on a response to a hazardous materials device from "somebody looking to do harm," Kaiser said. On Thursday, the simulated exercise was at the Stutsman County Fairgrounds during the "races" at Jamestown Speedway.

He said casualties and injuries are also simulated during the event.

He said the North Dakota National Guard's 81st Civil Support Team is being evaluated by the U.S. Army North.

"They involve us in the exercise because it kicks off what they do in real life of how it would work," he said. "We are doing this so we also did our own exercise ... ."

Depending on the chemical of a hazardous material device, the Civil Support Team could be called in. If it is determined the hazardous material is beyond the capabilities of the local fire departments, the Fargo Fire Department Hazardous Material Response Team will get called in.

"When it gets above them, CST (Civil Support Team) team comes in and then they try to figure out what they are dealing with," Kaiser said.

Kirking said the exercises give him an understanding of what local first responders do during a real situation while he would be in the Stutsman County Communications Center.

"If this was a real incident, we would have to have that information coming to us," he said, referring to information of the situation coming from responding agencies.

Kirking added he has to pass information onto the state that the situation needs an escalated response.

Edinger said the exercises give local law enforcement an opportunity to train with different equipment that isn't frequently used.

"It's equipment that's difficult to work in ... because they are wearing HAZMAT suits while they are doing a tactical operation," he said. "So it really limits the time they can be out. Dehydration and some of those things become an issue, mobility is reduced, the access to their equipment is difficult to see so it gives them an opportunity to train with that stuff. If It can work some problems out, discover some things, this is the place to do it."

Kaiser said the local agencies get together with the Civil Support Team and U.S. Army North after each exercise to learn what went well and what areas need improvement.

"They did a really good job of going through the whole incident from the start to the end," he said.