Sandia LabNews

Building muscle memory

Labs annual emergency exercise strengthens response

evaluator scans piece of paper
SIMULATED SCENARIO — During Sandia’s full-scale emergency exercise, Kirtland Fire Emergency Services exercise controller and evaluator Deputy Chief Abdur-Raheem As-Siddiq tracks critical details as first responders arrive on scene of a mock hazardous materials incident.
first responders
DETAIL DISCLOSURE — Brad Romero, center, Hazardous Waste Handling Unit facility emergency coordinator, briefs first responders about a mock chemical spill.

Months of intense planning, organizing and coordinating culminated in Sandia’s Aug. 10 annual emergency exercise — a yearly workout to test its emergency response organization’s proficiency in responding to a site incident that could affect the safety and health of Sandia’s workforce and surrounding communities.

Participating with Sandia emergency management in the drill were senior Labs and Sandia Field Office leadership, Kirtland Fire Emergency Services, the Department of Energy, Kirtland Air Force Base, the city of Albuquerque, Isleta Pueblo, Bernalillo County and the state of New Mexico.

experts gather in the EOC
NERVE CENTER — Sandia’s Emergency Operations Center brings together highly trained experts and technology to coordinate resources, information and communications for the protection of Sandia’s workforce, the public, property and the environment in the event of a disaster.

“This simulated emergency was a leap in complexity, and we take preparing and testing our emergency response organization very seriously,” said David Stuhan, senior manager in Emergency Management. “We created a very detailed and realistic scenario, established objectives and evaluated our capabilities to protect our workforce, public, property and the environment. Our preparedness level and response capabilities are strengthened through these complex exercises, and our major focus remains on continuous improvement.”

Sandia’s emergency response capabilities are based on the National Incident Management System, which standardizes principles, concepts and terminology to ensure a swift and effective response to natural or human-caused catastrophes. Sandia emergency management conducts drills throughout the year to prepare its responders and ensure equipment, systems and processes are proficient.

“As much as we endeavor to have a methodical, conditioned emergency response, we’re always mindful of what’s at stake — the safety and well-being of our colleagues, friends, families, communities and the environment,” David said.

people in the EOC
SITTING AT ATTENTION — Emergency Operations Center Planning Section lead Cynthia Rivera works with emergency management leadership in the Emergency Operations Center as the simulated emergency unfolds.
policy group during annual exercise
LEADERSHIP CORE — The Emergency Operations Center Policy Group, left to right, including Labs Director James Peery, Environment, Safety and Health acting Director Terry Cooper, Deputy Labs Director David Gibson, Deputy Technical Director for the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board and exercise observer Richard Tontodonato, and Associate Labs Director for Infrastructure Operations Jeffrey Heath provide strategic support and decision-making during the exercise.