Vermillion Police Chief Matt Betzen wants Clay County to be prepared.
VPD, the University Police Department, Clay County EMS, the Vermillion Fire Department and other county emergency services will gather together over Dakota Days to simulate an emergency situation.
“We will be able to respond faster,” Betzen said. “Our people will be briefed, and each subgroup has their own task.”
The crowds that flock downtown on D-Days help simulate a situation, and up to five times more resources are needed, Betzen said. An incident, like a car fire, would normally require a cruiser and a fire truck, but it would, during Dakota Days, take multiple fire trucks and officers.
“It’s a whole different event on D-Days than other days,” Betzen said. “When you have 1,000 people drinking, incidents happen.”
The incident command structure places Betzen, a captain and a county emergency manager monitoring the cameras, telephones and units.
The incident command structure was utilized last year, but is being formalized this year.
A team of investigators, traffic controllers and cameras set up along Main Street will also be included in this year’s Dakota Days. Volunteer fire fighters that are normally on call will be manning desks in case of emergencies.
“We can reduce the chance of a major incident happening,” Betzen said, “and if it does happen, we’ll be able to respond.”
The incident command structure will also serve as a drill for emergency responders. Major disasters require paperwork in order for federal reimbursement. By going through the extensive paperwork now, Betzen said it will save departments time in case a major incident occurs in the future.
Although the incident command structure was originally created to handle wildfires, it became adapted for multiple situations after 2001. In addition to a natural disaster, it is also used to handle large events and active shooter situations.
“We can’t ignore that possibility,” Betzen said.
First-year Jimmie Cunningham said he sees the point in the command structure, but to an extent.
“If something happens, the more people respond to it the better,” Cunningham said. “But it’s Vermillion it’s not going to happen. A good portion of it won’t be needed.”