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Exercise Silver hailed a success in Squamish

District handled high-level responsibilities

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The District of Squamish emerged from an Olympic security exercise last week feeling chuffed and able.

Exercise Silver, the second of three massive security drills, ran from Monday to Friday last week, with the district participating in weather event drills. According to Squamish Emergency Program Coordinator Jim Lang, the district participated at a level three capacity, on par with Vancouver and a few points higher than other corridor communities.

"And we're very proud we went that way," said Lang. "We played heavily in the weather events. Typically, that's what happens to us."

Those mock events spanned two scenarios. One saw a blockage in Mashiter Creek significant enough to cause lake-like pooling. That saw Mayor Greg Gardner authorize a mock state of emergency, a measure that allows the district to order evacuations and enter private lands, among other things. The other scenario saw another flooding event along the Stawamus River, threatening the bridge crossing on Highway 99. There was also a sub-scenario that involved the breakage of fibre links, which would upset communication capabilities.

Reaction and crisis management were launched from a facility in the Squamish RCMP detachment. According to Gardner, the facility is one of two in the province with gold-standard capacity.

"This is an example in Squamish where I say we practice quiet excellence," he said. "A big part of that is coordinating and training people."

The exercise involved 60 people in Squamish. However, there was nation-wide participation, and, in some cases, U.S. agencies were also involved. To that end, there were 1,000 participants across 150 agencies.

The vision for the exercises is described as: "Help to prepare the safety, security and Games operations response to the 2010 Games through a series of exercises that will provide a possible and plausible environment that will test relationships and organizational limits."

Exercise themes include protests, terrorism, health, seismic events and other possibilities.

Exercise Silver comes after last year's Exercise Bronze. Exercise Gold will be held in the fall.

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