IRON RANGE — St. Louis County Public Health is planning to host a large-scale emergency shelter drill involving more than 60 people from nine counties and tribal health departments.

The shelter training is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 24 at the Miners Memorial Building in Virginia.

The session will be a live exercise with volunteers acting like emergency participants to practice setting up a shelter, according to the press release from Dana Kazel, communications manager with St. Louis County.

“This is our second annual training of this nature,” said St. Louis County Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Scott Lesnau in a statement. “We hope to never need these skills in a real situation, but we know disasters can and will happen, and we want to be ready. It’s important we practice with our community partners so we all understand each others’ roles, what needs to be done and what resources we each have to contribute.”

The last time St. Louis County set up a shelter was in April 2018 when the Husky Energy oil refinery exploded and caught fire in neighboring Superior, Wis. The Iron Range-based drill is being held to prepare communities for various emergency situations, such as fires and flooding.

Public Health and Human Service staff from Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Koochiching, Lake and St. Louis counties, as well as Fond du Lac and Bois Forte, have all planned to participate. Also in attendance will be representatives from the American Red Cross, 148th Fighter Wing, Salvation Army and home health care agencies, plus ham radio volunteers, the Virginia Fire Department and other first responders.

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