SJC first responders get put to the test in first emergency drill since pandemic

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FARMINGTON, N.M. — There was a heavy first responder presence in Farmington and Bloomfield Wednesday morning, because San Juan County conducted two simulated emergency events in both cities, simultaneously.

There was a fleet of police cars, flashing lights, and the SWAT team. If you were just driving by it would look pretty serious, but it was only a drill. 

 “We are exercising the first responders in San Juan County with two separate incidents that are happening on opposite sides of the county, we are working with a private partner to use their facilities and exercise their people and their processes as well,” Devin Neeley, spokesperson for the SJC Office of Emergency Management, said.

One of those simulations is taking place at Enterprise Products. 

“There is a simulated hostage situation going on in the facility, an armed gunman took some hostages, some employees got out of the building and called 911 and so right now the police are mitigating that hostage situation,” Neeley explained.

Law enforcement map out every detail of what could happen in an incident like this one and once a year, they get a chance to put that plan into action. 

“This is an opportunity to test the plans. You can plan and you can practice all you want but until you get a real opportunity to try it out, you don’t exactly know how things are going to work,” Neeley said.

By testing first responders’ abilities and resources, it helps keep the community safe.

“These are things that could happen here, they haven’t fortunately, and so in a low-pressure environment we get to practice the skills that we would use to mitigate any incident of this nature,” Neeley said.

This is the first time since the pandemic that San Juan County has been able to exercise a drill of this size.