Disaster Exercise to Test Hospitals, Public Safety Officials With 1,200 Volunteer Victims (Including You, If You Want)

Disaster will strike the Valley on March 10, 2009.

No, that's not a prediction from the Mayan calendar. It's a mock event being held on or near Arizona State University's Tempe campus to test the disaster readiness of local public safety officials and health care workers.

The "Coyote Crisis Campaign" is a five-day exercise taking place during ASU's spring break in which 1,200 volunteers will pretend to be victims from an improvised explosive device.

Officials don't have all the volunteers they need yet -- visit the campaign's Web site for registration info if you've ever felt the need to play bomb victim (or, to get serious for a sec, help with an important community chore).

The site of the fake explosion won't be announced ahead of time to make the drill more realistic, says ASU's online newspaper.

Naturally, a real terrorist attack would be impossible with Obama as president, right?

See the full news release from the Arizona Department of Public Safety below:

State of Arizona and Maricopa County getting ready to test disaster preparedness during five-day event beginning March 9, 2009

Coyote Crisis Campaign (CCC) will focus on exercise planning issues surrounding an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) domestic terrorist attack

Approximately 25 hospitals from the Phoenix area will participate in the exercise along with police and fire departments from the federal, state, county and local levels
Coyote Crisis is a federal, state, local, and countywide disaster preparedness exercise being conducted March 9 - 13, 2009. Approximately 1,200 volunteers will be used to assist in an important portion of this exercise on March 10th, 2009. The majority of the volunteers will be used as mock victims to assist in the evaluation of the State's Mobile Medical Response (MMR) and the hospitals response to a domestic terrorist attack involving an "Improvised Explosive Device".

"The region is assessing the ability of responding fire service participants from 10 to 15 different agencies to triage, treat and transport 100 victims in a four-hour time period following the mock detonation of an Improvised Explosive Device (IED)," said Gil Damiani, Mesa Fire Department, Assistant Chief.

"The ASU Police Department and members from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, along with members from other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies will participate in Coyote Crisis 2009 in an effort to build upon our already great working relationships. Though several areas will be evaluated, we will focus heavily on interoperability and interaction with other emergency responders to control, mitigate, and recover from a major incident," said Allen Clark, Arizona State University, Assistant Chief of Police.

"Approximately 25 hospitals from the Phoenix area will participate in the Coyote Crisis exercise. Exercise objectives for participating hospitals include evaluating mass casualty management, fatality management, forensic evidence collection, family notification and reunification, and medical surge. Special emphasis will be placed on the evaluation of interoperable communication plans and systems," said Andrew Lawless, MBA, PMP - Section Chief, Education and Exercise, Public Health Emergency Preparedness, Arizona Department of Health Services.

We would like the media's assistance in getting the word out to the public that this exercise will be taking place and that on the 10th of March they may see a significant amount of emergency services units, especially in the ASU area of Tempe, moving around the city in support of this exercise. All factions of public safety, healthcare, and the business community will be tested throughout this week. More information to follow in weeks to come.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.