Officials from Starke, Pulaski Counties Participate in Earthquake Exercise

The largest ever Indiana exercise and the first ever national level exercise designed around a natural disaster was held last week. Starke County EMA Director, Ted Bombagetti and Pulaski County Chief Deputy Sheriff, Ron Patrick, who is the District Two Task Force Commander for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, were involved in the exercise that took place at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center. Pulaski County Sheriff, Michael Gayer, attended the training and he talks about the training center in Jennings County:

“For 60 years, it was a mental health facility for adults,” said Sheriff Gayer. “It’s like its own little town. It has every structure that a town would have and once it was vacated by those patients, the military took it over and now it is the premiere training facility for disaster drills and terrorist activity training. They’ve actually went in and reconstructed Middle Eastern villages and synagogues and there’s a U.S. Embassy on the facility. The exercise for this drill was an earthquake that had struck southern Indiana and had caused tremendous damage and the loss of life to a lot of the counties in southeastern and southwestern Indiana. They activated the northern part of the state’s emergency team from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. There were actually five states participating in this exercise and a couple of foreign countries.”

Sheriff Gayer was impressed with the exercise.

“It was quite impressive to see what they are able to do to replicate a disaster and replicate terrorist training and what a Middle Eastern village might look like. We were permitted to tour the facility and watch the first responders do their jobs and I was quite impressed with all of the hard work that was put into this. The logistics of it had to be a nightmare. They’ve been planning this for over a year. The Lieutenant Governor was there, the head of FEMA was there, and there were a couple of four-star Generals there. I think the citizens of Indiana are in good hands with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and certainly with FEMA.”