LIVORNO, Italy - U.S. Army Garrison Livorno tested its emergency response capabilities by conducting an annual force protection exercise Oct. 22.

The exercise began with a simulated train derailment at the Livorno Army Depot, with the accident escalating into a hazardous cloud of toxic fumes that threatened the garrison workforce.

First responders arrived quickly to the scene, as the injured were rushed to an initial triage area. Meanwhile, an emergency operation center was established immediately on Camp Darby, and the main triage area was organized at the Livorno Health Clinic.

The EOC and triage area are critical elements during emergencies, said Linn Weaver, director of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security, as they allow efforts to minimize or stop the threat that endangers public health or safety, as well as to treat those who have been injured.

Fortunately, this was only an exercise scenario, said Weaver.

But in keeping the exercise realistic, the scenario suddenly called for a wind change that simulated toxins blowing in the direction of Camp Darby, which posed a new risk to people near the area.

This prompted the EOC and the on-scene commander to further contain the area, as well as evacuating casualties who worked in the now-contaminated section.

Overall, "This annual exercise is a great opportunity to test the efficiency of internal procedures," said Col. Raffaele Iubini, Italian base commander. "It is also a chance to interact with our local emergency responder counterparts."

"This training is something we look forward to," added Maj. Gregory Iverson, commander of the Livorno Health Clinic, "It's great training for our medics to renew their trauma setting skills."

Dr. Ray Germano, a newcomer at the clinic, agreed, saying: "This exercise is critically important; I am really impressed on how well this one was organized, and how the delegation of responsibilities was effective and timely."

Such collaboration with local authorities is crucial in case of real emergency, said Weaver.

"The active participation of the Prefecture, Civil Protection, the 118 first aid, the Red Cross and the Italian Fire Department was a big plus for us to better understanding their procedures," he explained. "Their professionalism, quick response and knowledge are excellent."

"The flux of information was very realistic between the exercise site and the EOC," said Iubini. "The effective communication highlighted the perfect integration between the local authorities responsible for the emergency measures, and military authorities who were involved in the first phase of immediate response to a disaster."