Sep 112013

By Julie Wiessner
Although the Navajo County Fair brings with it the excitement of the midway with fun, games, rides, prizes, the rodeo and other competitions to see who is the best in every category, it also presents an opportunity for the sheriff’s office to hone communication and simulation skills between departments at a mini event.
The Navajo County Sheriff’s Office will bring out its command trailer at the county fair for practice. According to Chief Deputy Jim Molesa, “The county fair provides an opportunity for practice using the communications trailer; it’s a nice mini-drill to maintain our skills. The event replicates different situations that can happen with larger events, but on a much smaller scale.”
One part of this practice will consist of officers patrolling the interior and perimeter of the fairgrounds to communicate with the command center, while folks in the command center practice receiving information and responding.
Molesa said, “The biggest thing we will focus on is the inner operability between and amongst all of the different departments.” Inner operability is the ability to communicate with the sheriff, police, the Department of Public Safety, and fire and rescue departments.
“We need to ensure we can talk with these entities and public health officials, and that we are well staffed and equipped with first aid equipment, because all of these resources may be needed at a moment’s notice,” said Molesa.
During the fair, sheriff’s office personal will also practice tabletop simulations by holding discussions on different scenarios, like something as simple as a power outage and what would be needed if it lasted for an extended period of time. This will help them to be prepared as they determine what equipment and must be on hand and what response is necessary.
For example, “If the power goes out, most people can make it two or three days with emergency generators, but after that, we will need hand pumps to get, say, gasoline out of the ground to continue to function,” noted Molesa.
Although not the same as an emergency mock-up practice day, the fair provides opportunity for the sheriff and other offices and departments to practice and be ready, or more ready for different events, if and when they may happen.