WILMINGTON >> The town is seeking actors to participate in Vermont's Vigilant Guard catastrophic exercise on July 29.

Volunteers are needed to help prepare emergency responders in Vermont for future disasters. About 36 people are needed to spend a day at a shelter, have simulated injuries or illnesses, and other roles. Volunteers will be given a role to play and instructed on what needs they should present to responders. They will then play out the scenario in order for evaluators to record how fire, police, rescue, and other responders react. Those observations will then be used to identify gaps and improve responses. Before the event, actors will be given a complete orientation to the incident site and what actions are expected of them. Food will be provided.

Six volunteers are needed from 8 to 10:30 a.m. and 30 volunteers from 4 to 6 p.m. Actors must be 18 or over with the following exceptions: 16-17 year-olds may participate with parents' permission. Younger children can participate if part of a "family" at a shelter.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact Jessica DeFrancesco at the Town Offices at jdefrancesco@wilmingtonvt.us or 802-464-8591. The state is also looking for participants. For more information, email brittany.marquette@vermont.gov.


Three years in the making, the state-wide Vigilant Guard exercise will include 5,000 people and evaluate the effectiveness of state and local responses to a number of crises. The exercise is being organized by the Vermont Division of Emergency Management & Homeland Security, in collaboration with the Vermont National Guard, and is scheduled for July 25 through Aug. 2.

Vigilant Guard is Vermont's largest ever emergency exercise and will play out in 50 locations throughout Vermont, to include state agencies, local communities, 16 hospitals, the Burlington Airport, and the Vermont National Guard among many others. The goal of the exercise is to evaluate performance and identify gaps that may exist in the state's response to a catastrophic event.

Emergency Operations Centers at several state agencies and the National Guard will be activated at different times during the week, and the exercise will culminate with a 53 hour around-the-clock activation at the State Emergency Operations Center involving all agencies.

"We've designed this exercise to pose as many real challenges as possible," DEMHS Director Christopher Herrick said. "Urban search and rescue teams will work with the National Guard to clear tons of debris, the Health Department will receive and distribute Strategic National Stockpile medicines and supplies, and actors will inundate hospitals and shelters needing assistance. This degree of realism will help us hone our response by identifying not only what went right, but what went wrong and rectifying those mistakes in the future."

National Guard vehicles will be on the road and in the sky during the event, and hundreds of members of the Guard will perform emergency tasks for which they have trained.

The Vermont Department of Health will play a major role during the exercise. A simulated health emergency will test that department's ability to respond and distribute life-saving medications.

Should a real emergency occur the public will be notified through traditional means like Vermont Alert (http://vtalert.gov), the Emergency Alert System, or through the media.

Specific details of the exercise will remain confidential as some participants cannot know those details before being evaluated during the exercise.

Communities that are participating include Colchester, Guilford, Lyndon, Newport, Wilmington and Windsor. Agencies, departments and other state entities participating include the Department of Public Safety, the Division of Fire Safety, Urban Search and Rescue, the Vermont State Police, the Agency of Agriculture, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the Agency of Transportation.

In addition, 16 hospitals around the state will be involved, as well as Civil Air Patrol, the National Weather Service, the Red Cross, Vermont Electric Cooperative, Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control.

Activities include natural disaster response and recovery, a medical surge and a cyber attack.