It wasn’t a real disaster, but it had all the makings of one.

Rogers County emergency officials took part in a tabletop disaster exercise Tuesday put on by the State Homeland Security office in an effort to update and improve preparedness and communication.

The scenario was plausible: A train derailment in Claremore caused a chemical leak just hours before a tornado ripped through parts of the city. And emergency officials in the county are now a little more prepared for one or both of those possible disasters.

Representatives of the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security were on hand Tuesday for a preliminary exercise that allowed fire, law enforcement, emergency and hospital personnel, and local government officials a chance to work together to handle the situation.

“It’s important that everybody communicates with each other before something like this happens,” Rogers County Emergency Management Director Bob Anderson said. “The time to do it is not when the disaster happens. That’s why this is so important.”

This exercise stressed the importance of communication between the agencies in order to maintain order and to ensure a smooth operation.

In dealing with the disasters in this exercise,

“It’s important not to create panic and chaos,” Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management’s Public Information Officer Michelann Ooten said. “However, it’s also important to give the public as much information as you can to make sure they are safe.”

Although this exercise was on “paper only” Tuesday, county officials will take part in a “hands on” exercise in January, which will test the effectiveness of the plans put together Tuesday.

Several agencies took part in the exercise, including Rogers County Sheriff’s Office, Claremore Police Department, Foyil Fire Department, Tri-District Fire Department, Claremore Fire Department and Hazmat Team, Broken Arrow Fire Department, Pafford EMS, Oologah-Talala EMS, Claremore Regional Hospital, Rogers County Emergency Management, Rogers County Health Department, Jane Phillips Medical Center (Bartlesville), and several others who may be of assistance during a disaster.

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