The Wadena County Sheriff’s Office hosted a full scale train derailment exercise Saturday, Sept. 14, in Verndale.

There were more than 90 participants and 27 agencies that pulled together to make this event a success. The main objective behind a full-scale exercise such as this is preparedness. The scenario presented a variety of challenges to everyone involved and gives each agency a chance to critique their ability to respond to this type of disaster.

Teams discussed the top priorities when responding to the incident, how to isolate the scene, establish a command post, and setting up the most reliable staging and communication areas. This exercise lasted roughly 3 hours from start to finish whereas a real life scenario could last through multiple days. All agencies involved included: Wadena County Sheriff's Office; Wadena, Verndale, Staples police departments, Verndale, Wadena, Sebeka, Menahga fire departments, Tri-County Health Care, Henning EMS, Lakewood Health System, Staples Ambulance, MN Polution Control Agency, Wadena County Public Health, MN State Fire Marshal's Office, F.I.R.E. Inc., MnDOT, BNSF, Homeland Security Emergency Management, Leaf River Ag, D&J Services, Verndale Public Works, Verndale Lions Club, Crow Wing County Drone Team and actors and volunteers.

This exercise took nearly two years of planning, largely in part to Emergency Management Director, Deputy Tyler Wheeler.