Mayor Geri McCaleb said she was impressed by the exercise.
“We are prepared," she said Tuesday. "Today was a valuable experience, and we found that do have a few gaps to fill. In the worst times, we have the best team and resources right here in Grand Haven to respond quickly and professionally.”
The exercise was designed and presented by Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke and Sgt. Glenn Bo.
Bo said acting in an emergency boils down to a basic skill set of communication.
“Our No. 1 asset is our ability to communicate clearly and effectively with each other and the public," he said. "Failure to effectively communicate can derail the most well-planned emergency response."
Representatives from the city's public safety and public works departments, city administration and the mayor, Ottawa County Emergency Management and Central Dispatch, the American Red Cross, North Ottawa Community Health System Ambulance, and the Grand Haven Board of Light & Power spent the morning participating in a tabletop exercise. This is a virtual enactment of a real emergency — in this case, a derailed train that causes a leak of anhydrous ammonium. The event occurs during the Winterfest Luau, causing the evacuation of the entire downtown, including a tent full of festival-goers.
These drills are held regularly at various levels of government, with at least one per year by the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety, City Manager Pat McGinnis said.