CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine — In what will be one of the largest exercises of its kind ever undertaken in a rural area, Sugarloaf will host local, county, and state emergency response agencies to test their readiness in the event of a full-scale emergency on Sunday, November 7.
The drill will simulate the derailment of a fully loaded chairlift, and will test the preparedness of all agencies involved, including the Sugarloaf Ski Patrol, Carrabassett Valley Police Department, Carrabassett Valley Fire Department, Kingfield Fire Department, Eustis Fire Department, NorthStar Emergency Medical Services, and Franklin Memorial Hospital, among others. Representatives from other New England ski areas will also participate in the exercise.
The drill will be monitored by the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency (FCEMA). Emergency response agencies will be tested according to the standards set forth in the National Incident Management System (NIMS).
In all, the drill will involve more than 12 agencies and as many as 300 participants.
“The goal of the drill is to test the community’s ability to respond to a large scale emergency in a rural area,” said Earl Connor, a member of the Sugarloaf Ski Patrol who is coordinating the drill. “An event like the one we’re simulating will quickly overwhelm all of our readily available resources, from first responders to hospital staff, and we’re testing our ability to respond to that. What we learn from this drill will be applicable to any number of scenarios in similarly rural areas.”
The drill will test every aspect of the emergency response, from first response to press and public communications to the ability of the hospital system to manage the influx of patients. Each of the participating agencies will be assessed on their performance, and their ability to interact effectively with one another.
“One of the objectives of this drill is to help emergency responders realize that a ‘team’ effort is necessary even for the smallest emergency,” said Clyde Ross, Public Information Officer for the Franklin County Emergency Management Agency. “This drill and its size will make each person involved aware of the need for cooperation and an efficient use of emergency responders, equipment and communication services. It is not intended to show weaknesses in individuals or the response teams but aid in improving our skills and response techniques.”
Though the drill will involve numerous agencies and emergency rescue vehicles, it is not expected to significantly disrupt local traffic.