- Associated Press - Thursday, December 17, 2015

WATERBURY, Vt. (AP) - More than 4,000 first responders from across Vermont will participate in an emergency response exercise next year that will include clearing debris, distributing emergency provisions and arranging help from other states, officials said Thursday.

Local, state and federal authorities outlined the plan for the emergency drill dubbed Vigilant Guard that will begin July 27 and run through Aug. 2.

The exercises will include setting up emergency operations centers in the field, responding to and recovering from a natural disaster and a medical “surge.” Other components of the exercise weren’t being disclosed in advance.

“We conduct these exercises so we’re ready to respond when real catastrophic events occur - like Tropical Storm Irene,” said Christopher Herrick, director of the Vermont Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

The goals of the exercise are to share information between local, state, regional, and federal officials and demonstrate the abilities of health care facilities to deal with large numbers of patients and the public and private sectors to keep roads open and utilities functioning.

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