Training For Emergencies in Reeves County

By Wyatt Goolsby
NewsWest 9

Keeping Reeves County citizens safe is the message Wednesday after a busy morning for authorities. They gathered in Pecos city for the WIPPTREX 2007 program.

With the help from a lot of people in the Reeves County Community, emergency workers held a successful training exercise Wednesday. WIPPTREX 2007 is short for Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Transportation Exercise. And emergency management in Reeves County said it involves setting up an emergency scenario, and then reacting just like authorities are supposed to in a real situation.

"This is not a gradable exercise, this is an observer's exercise," said Richard Alligood, Pecos City Mayor.

Simulating an actual accident.

"We're going through from the time of the emergency call going out over the radios to the police department of an accident to the fact of activating an emergency response team," explained Alligood.

And then looking for ways to get better. Members of EMS, fire, and law enforcement in Reeves County Wednesday went through some serious drills as part of the program.

"It's a full scale exercise, which means that we're actually going to roll emergency vehicles and transport people," said Ricardo Herrera, the Emergency Management Coordinator for Reeves County.

And they know it's important, because if a truck carrying nuclear waste ever spilled, it could mean bad news.

"These transport vehicles come through our county, and there's always a possibility they are going to be involved in some type of incident. So it is very important that we train our responders who will be responding at the time of the incident to train, and to be capable of handling an incident involving radioactive materials," explained Herrera.

Nearly 200 people went through Wednesday's training, and for many, the drills weren't exactly a walk in the park. It was an exercise to make sure all residents are safe by being prepared.

"Having the proper training eliminates the chaos. Having people knowing their positions, what they should do, and then having the duplicity of training is so important, especially for rural communities. And with the federal government stepping in, and the state stepping in along with the Waste Isolation project out of Carlsbad, it's extremely beneficial to rural west Texas or any rural community to go through this training," said Alligood.

After the drills were finished, authorities said they critique their work, and talk about how they could respond faster or better in emergencies.