Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus announced today a major disaster planning exercise to be conducted in Pleasant Valley involving Dutchess County Department of Emergency Response, the New York Air National Guard and the Pleasant Valley Fire Department. This Major Accident Response Exercise (M.A.R.E.) will be conducted on Saturday morning, May 6, 2006.
According to County Executive Steinhaus, “This is the first time Dutchess County has been involved in a joint planning exercise of this magnitude with the military. This is an important test of the communication and coordination efforts required to respond to an aircraft accident of this type.”
The County Executive noted, “The exercise will simulate the crash of a C-5 aircraft on the Albrecht Farm property in the Town of Pleasant Valley. Many months of planning have involved representatives from the Dutchess County Department of Emergency Response, Dutchess County Department of Health, Dutchess County Medical Examiner, the New York Air National Guard, Pleasant Valley Fire Department, Mutual Aid Fire Departments from communities surrounding the “crash” scene, EMS Agencies, Dutchess County Sheriff’s office, New York State Police, Dutchess Community College and others to design an exercise to test communications, response and inter-organizational cooperation when and if response to such an accident is required.
According to Colonel Charles Faro, Air National Guard 105th Air Wing, Vice Commander, “This is an unprecedented event where the New York Air National Guard has the opportunity to train with local first responders off airport property. We are pleased to be able to assist Dutchess County and the local fire departments in providing this type of training.”
Only a few weeks ago, while the local M.A.R.E. committee was meeting to plan the Dutchess drill, a C-5 aircraft out of Dover, Delaware crashed at the end of the Dover airport runway. Jeff Battistoni, Pleasant Valley Town Supervisor stated, “We are pleased to be involved in this critical training exercise. C-5’s fly over our town regularly on their approach to Stewart Air National Guard Base. Although an incident is highly unlikely, this type of practice makes all parties more effective in any type of disaster.”
At the conclusion of the exercise, several ‘after action’ meetings will be held to bring together observations, issues and unanswered questions designed to improve response plans and protocols.
County Executive Steinhaus concluded, “The planning process for this exercise is as important as the exercise itself. The individuals who would actually respond to such an event will have the opportunity to meet, share ideas and walk through the simulation to discover areas needed to be addressed to ensure our maximum effectiveness.”