Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City will be filled today (Friday) with screaming emergency victims and rushing rescue personnel. They know this already because the disaster drill’s been scheduled for some time. University of Iowa Campus Police Associate Director Larry Langley says this isn’t the first time they’ve done a run-through — but it’s the first drill on this scale.
They’ve done “tabletop exercises,” in which local emergency agencies gather to sit down and talk through how they’d work together to respond to an emergency or natural disaster. He can’t say yet what’s going to happen…because part of the plan is that nobody knows what will happen.
There’s an outside group that’s been hired to run the “disaster” scenario, and nobody knows what that’s going to involve. After all, he says it’s to test the ability of local and other law-enforcement agencies to work together in responding to an unforeseen emergency, so if they knew what was going to happen it’d take away from the point of the exercise.
In addition to city, county and state agencies, Langley says the thirty sworn officers of the U-of-I campus police will be a big part of the drill, and he says people may underestimate their role. The campus cops are sworn police officers just like those in other law-enforcement agencies, and Langley says they work side-by-side with other law enforcement. “There’s not a fence,” he explains, “that delineates when you’re in Iowa City jurisdiction and when you’re in University of Iowa jurisdiction. We’re here to help.”
While much of the exercise will take place in the stadium, Langley says it will simulate a large-scale disaster so people who hear police radio calls or sirens in Iowa City today should consider the chance it’s just a test. The drill begins at 8 A.M.