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Emergency Response Summit Includes Public, Private Sectors

The Wisconsin Public-Private Partnership Summit is scheduled for Nov. 1-2 at the Glacier Canyon Conference Center with training and demonstrations on the first day and a slate of speakers and panel discussions on the second.

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(TNS) - A state agency and Dells-Delton emergency responders will help prepare business leaders, community members and public officials on how to handle a potential disaster during a two-day summit next month in Wisconsin Dells.

The Wisconsin Public-Private Partnership (P3) Summit is scheduled for Nov. 1-2 at the Glacier Canyon Conference Center with training and demonstrations on the first day and a slate of speakers and panel discussions on the second. It’s focused on the business sector and includes several participants from the Dells-Delton business community as well as others from around the state, said Jed Seidl, emergency management program coordinator for the village of Lake Delton.

“I am very, very, very thankful that so many of these businesses are part of this project, because it’s hugely important that we all do our best to be really prepared for when bad things happen,” Seidl said.

Wisconsin Emergency Management and the Dells-Delton Area Response Exercise Series, known as DARES, are co-organizing the summit, which is supported by the federal Homeland Security Community Preparedness Grant. The grant amount will be determined after the event based on its overall cost, according to Wisconsin Emergency Management spokesman Andrew Beckett.

The DARES program, which includes first responders from the four counties surrounding Wisconsin Dells, was initiated in 2018 by the FBI and Department of Homeland Security because of the area’s unique infrastructure — a multi-billion dollar tourism industry, millions of tourists each year and thousands of international student-workers — which could make it a target for someone aiming to harm a large number of people, Seidl said.

“We’re constantly doing training,” he said, including by upgrading emergency preparedness programs, working with businesses to get them prepared and training with police, fire and EMS. “Training for bad things to happen that we hope will never happen. It’s like our mantra for emergency management here, is ‘expect the best but prepare for the worst.’”

DARES lays out a voluntary training and exercise plan spanning from 2018 to 2022, culminating in a large-scale exercise in May that will simulate a mass-casualty event. Seidl said such an incident would start with local responders but, as it unfolds, would require assistance and coordination from nearby counties, hospitals, the Wisconsin National Guard and other state and federal agencies.

P3 Summit attendees also will be able to observe the Dells/Delton Rescue Task Force demonstrate in real time how police, fire, EMS and private sector personnel work together in response to a multi-casualty event, according to the agenda. The demonstration will be in Wilderness’ Wild West Waterpark while observers will watch from above on the second floor.

A significant part of P3 is about how an affected area and its businesses recover after a critical incident, Seidl said.

One such panel includes representatives from Oneida Nation and the Radisson Hotel in Green Bay, according to Beckett. In May, a gunman killed two people in a shooting at the Oneida Casino complex.

Another speaker formerly worked as senior manager of emergency and crisis management at Walt Disney World, according to Beckett. Other topics of the summit include current cyber threats to businesses, ways to leverage resources to assist with recovery and how to communicate the importance of disaster preparation with leadership.

Beckett said organizers invited a variety of businesses, religious organizations, nonprofits, public officials and emergency managers across the state to participate in P3. Ninety people so far have registered for the first day and 126 have registered for the second.

“We’re happy to be able to offer this kind of opportunity to a large sector of the private and public communities so that they can make these connections and identify some of the issues that they would need to address in the aftermath of an emergency or disaster,” Beckett said.

Follow Susan Endres on Twitter @EndresSusan or call her at 745-3506.

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