March 09, 2009

Coyote Crisis to test ASU during spring break

Posted: March 09, 2009

Arizona State University’s Tempe campus will be the site of a major disaster drill during the week of spring break.

The main event during the week of March 9-13 will occur on Tuesday, March 10, when a mock “improvised explosive device” creates a scenario that requires the response and resources of numerous police and fire units from throughout Arizona that are participating in the drill.

Approximately 1,200 volunteers will take part in the exercise, many of whom will play people injured in the incident. Volunteers are still needed for the event. To sign up, go to coyotecampaign.org and click on the volunteer tab.

ASU faculty, staff and students who are on campus on March 10 should not be alarmed if they see a large number of police and fire department units that day. Medical evacuation and news helicopters are also expected to participate in and cover the event.

“The ASU Police Department and members from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, along with members from other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies will participate in Coyote Crisis 2009 in an effort to build upon our already great working relationships.  Though several areas will be evaluated, we will focus heavily on interoperability and interaction with other emergency responders to control, mitigate, and recover from a major incident,” says Allen Clark, ASU Assistant Chief of Police and Operation Section Chief for the event.

The Coyote Crisis drill will test crisis responses among federal, state, local and county agencies and organizations. “Victims” of the crisis will facilitate a test of Arizona’s mobile medical response with approximately 10 to 15 fire agency participants and about 25 hospitals from throughout the Valley. Some participants who are acting as victims will play their parts by wearing make up to simulate injuries.

“Coyote Crisis is an extremely important drill as it is one of the first times that all the area hospitals, public safety agencies, university, and business community have all worked together to test our capabilities to respond to a mass casualty incident,” says James W. Warriner, Arizona Department of Public Safety lieutenant and primary public information officer for Coyote Crisis.

ASU will test its emergency plan in part by responding to the crisis and setting up an Emergency Operations Center as well as the policy group that enlists the services of ASU senior management and a communications center.

Students from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications will play the part of print and broadcast reporters during the exercise. Many of those participating are using their spring break to learn the craft of reporting under pressure during an incident where things unfold quickly and regular communications can break down or become inoperable.

“They are looking forward to it,” says Michael Wong, Cronkite School director of Career Services, who is advising the participating students. “They look at it as an opportunity to practice their information-gathering skills.”

Wong is meeting with students before the drill to address any concerns or questions they may have about participating in Coyote Crisis. He looks forward to students being able to hone their reporting skills in a drill of this magnitude.

“We’re happy the Cronkite School students have this opportunity to assist in this exercise and to practice the skills they are learning in the classroom,” he says.

Julie Newberg , julie.newberg@asu.edu
Media Relations