This is only a drill.
Next week, the Billings Phillips 66 refinery will simulate a disaster — some sort of gas leak. The accident will affect about 60 volunteers, mostly students from School District 2, who will have fake but real-looking wounds.
The exercise will run from about 8:30 a.m. to mid-afternoon on Sept. 26 to test the community’s response to a full-scale disaster.
Duane Winslow, Yellowstone County’s director of Disaster and Emergency Services, said the drill is being coordinated by the Yellowstone County Local Emergency Planning Committee and will involve hundreds of responders and volunteers.
The code name for the operation is COYOTE 2012, which is short for “County of Yellowstone Operating Together in an Emergency.”
Held every few years, the drill allows emergency responders and agencies to test their plans in an effort to improve services and to ensure the public receives the highest level of service possible, Winslow said.
The county typically works with one of its three oil refineries for the exercise, Winslow said, because the refineries are required to test their emergency response plans. The refineries also are big enough that an accident could affect numerous people, he said.
The so-called victims will be about 60 volunteers, mostly students from School District 2. Art students will apply make up to simulate various levels of injury. “They really get into it,” Winslow said.
The drill generally won’t involve the public, however, people who live near the refinery have received fliers about the exercise from Phillips 66, Winslow said. Officials would like residents to be prepared and will have information available at a barricade by the refinery on how to protect themselves and what to do in an emergency, he said.
The public also can prepare for disasters by having an emergency supply kit to meet basic needs for 72 hours and keeping informed through television, radio and the Internet, Winslow said.
Some of those participating in the drill include the Phillips 66 refinery, the Billings fire and police departments, School District 2, the Montana Women’s Prison, United Way, American Medical Response, the National Weather Service, Billings Clinic, St. Vincent Healthcare, Yellowstone County DES, Yellowstone Amateur Radio Emergency Services and RiverStone Health.