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Emergency training exercises continue in Western UP

Published: Apr. 13, 2022 at 6:08 PM EDT
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ONTONAGON, Mich. (WLUC) - Despite rainy weather, Michigan National Guard soldiers, along with first responders from Gogebic and Ontonagon counties participated in the third day of emergency training.

The goal is to to enhance cooperation, communication and coordination between multiple agencies during large scale emergencies. Today’s fictional emergency situation was a hazardous chemical lab found at the Ontonagon County Airport.

“Local authorities have discovered something like a chemical process or clandestine lab at a local airport. They decided it was above their level of expertise to investigate or look into the laboratory so they requested Michigan National Guard support,” said Michigan National Guard 51st Civil Sport Team Deputy Commander Maj. Mathew E. Guerin.

The soldiers had to identify hazardous materials and dispose of them safely. Major Guerin says the biggest benefit he has seen from the training is a better understanding between federal, state, and local authorities.

“When they see us come and set up shop they are able to see what our capabilities and limitations are and they know if they get into a situation where they’re unsure who to contact they know we’re there and know what we can and can’t do.”

Ontonagon County Sheriff Dale Rantala says that training with the National Guard and other emergency personnel is crucial to tackling future emergency situations.

“Putting a face to a name helps. So we now know that if this ever happens, which I hope it never does, we know the lead times that we need to take care of things.”

The annual exercise called Northern Exposure takes place in 12 different counties in the Upper Peninsula and ends tomorrow.

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