Several law enforcement agencies and first responders had a full-scale exercise designed to test readiness and communications in the event of a widespread disaster – a simulated emergency near the U.S./Mexico border that causes a mass migration of about 3,000 people. 

The simulated emergency involved the detonation of a weapon of mass destruction. 

The drill took place on Tuesday at Santa Teresa High School. Conducted by the Doña Ana County/Las Cruces Office of Emergency Management through a grant funded by the Department of Homeland Security, Operation Stampede involved several role-playing scenarios in which thousands of people had to be decontaminated and given various levels of aid.

Participating organizations included the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Department, Doña Ana County Fire and Emergency Services, the Doña Ana County Office of Emergency Management, New Mexico State Police, Sunland Park Police Department, Sunland Park Fire Department, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, amateur radio operators, Gadsden Independent School District, the National Weather Service and the Mesilla Valley Regional Dispatch Authority (MVRDA). 

The functional exercise was to test emergency responders’ core capabilities: environmental response/decontamination, operational communications and mass care services. Several sites in Doña Ana County hosted various components of the exercise.