The campus of Central Washington University (CWU) will be the site of a full-scale Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) exercise next week.

Per domestic emergency management standards, an MCI is considered any event resulting in enough injuries and/or fatalities that it exceeds the capacity of a standard emergency response to manage.

CWU Emergency Management Coordinator, Robert Cepeda, says the exercise will simulate the aftermath of a transportation accident.

"We are going to have an aircraft that crashes onto a recreational field, simulating both survivors and fatalities. Basically, it's going to test how well first responders communicate, as well as their policies and procedures."

The MCI will involve at least eight different public safety agencies, along with local stakeholders, and FEMA Region 10.

During the exercise, emergency responders will practice establishing an incident perimeter, launching an investigation, triaging the injured using live actors, and managing casualties for transport to local coroner's facilities and funeral homes using mannequins.

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Cepeda says the last MCI conducted at CWU happened two years ago when much was learned from the exercise.

"We did one in 2022 that simulated an active-shooter situation. One of the things that came out of our review process for that MCI was that our external partners such as the hospital, coroner's office, and emergency medical services didn't get a lot of time to participate. So we've structured this exercise so that they can better work out their plans."

Next week's MCI will impact traffic at the CWU campus with the closure of Alder Street and 18th Avenue. It will also create a notable presence of emergency vehicles in the area.

Cepeda adds that the city of Ellensburg might also experience smoke impacts from the exercise.

"We will be utilizing a white smoke simulator. Depending upon the wind conditions that day, there might be a lot of smoke in the area, especially around the CWU campus. This is being done to lend realism to the exercise and it's not a caustic or hazardous type of smoke, but rather one that's been specifically developed for this kind of exercise."

Next week's MCI will take place on Wednesday, June 12 from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Some of the agencies involved will be the Central Washington University Police; Kittitas County Sheriff's Office; Ellensburg Police Department; Kittitas Valley Fire & Rescue; Cle Elum Fire & Rescue; Kittitas Valley Health; Kittitas County Coroner's Office; and Kittcom.

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Gallery Credit: AJ Brewster

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