Annual Sandia simulation strengthens emergency response

By Luke Frank

Photography By Randy Montoya

Thursday, April 25, 2019

emergency responders dressed in hazardous material protection gear
responder administers first aid to mock victim

Scores of Labs employees in Albuquerque, joined by outside emergency response personnel, were immersed in a simulated crisis April 17 as part of the annual emergency management full-scale exercise.

mock victim walks out with emergency responders
Under the guise of an explosion involving radioactive material at the Annular Core Research Reactor in Tech Area V, Sandia’s Emergency Operations Center was activated, and every level of response tested: from initial evacuations and medical response through getting information to the Labs workforce and the public.
emergency responders carry mock victim from facility

Adding a dose of realism, responders dressed out in full personal protective equipment, and victims were made up in moulage to simulate injuries. A rare New Mexico rainstorm provided an unexpected twist to the exercise, creating impromptu access challenges.

technician scans emergency responder for radiation

“These annual exercises are specially designed to target current response procedures and improve our future responses,” said Ben Huff, emergency preparedness manager. “Throughout this event, evaluators from Sandia and outside federal agencies took copious notes that will enable us to really drill down on the efficacy of our policies and protocols, and compliance with the DOE order covering the comprehensive emergency management system. Front to back, it’s quite an experience.”