Firefighters work to extricate an unresponsive “victim” from a hillside at Wind Creek State Park during Tuesday’s disaster drill. | Austin Nelson photo

Archived Story

Fake victims, real training

Published 5:19pm Thursday, April 26, 2012


County participates in disaster drill, simulates tornado response

Sirens could be heard all over town yesterday, as fire, police and emergency personnel took part in a disaster drill.

Director of the Tallapoosa County Emergency Management Agency Joe Paul Boone said that the drill was a simulated response to a tornado.

“Drills like this are conducted periodically to make sure all types of personnel are ready for emergencies,” Boone said. “Exercises like this are essential to limiting chaos in a disaster situation.”

Chief Charles Rafford said the drill, which involved a mock tornado hitting Wind Creek State Park, was the product of more than six weeks of planning. In addition to the tornado itself, there were other situations to which disaster responders had to react.

“Typically in an event like (a tornado), there are a myriad of things that can happen and that emergency personnel will be faced with,” Rafford said. “We can’t possibly cover them all, but we wanted to cover as many as we could and illustrate the real-time effect these events can have on disaster response.”

These situations included road blockages and simulated flat tires that left emergency vehicles unable to continue on their paths. Also, the emergency responders had to react to a mock heart attack victim in the Emergency Operation Center and a staged electrocution victim.

“Overall, I am very pleased with how the EOC functioned,” Rafford said. “There are some infrastructure issues – equipment and antennas – that still need some improving in the future, but I think we are capable of handling that. But for the first time setting up the EOC and running a drill, I am very pleased with the way everything worked.”

Boone said that in a few weeks, some of the participants in the disaster drill will reconvene to examine what can be improved.

“We know there is always room for improvement,” Boone said. “We also know it was the first time here at the EOC. If we can be doing something better, that’s what we want to do.”

Rafford said that communication out of the EOC is something that will be worked on in the future.

Boone also spoke about the importance of effective communication.

“We will always have people working in the EOC communicating with people out in the field,” Boone said. “That communication means so much. Getting the right people to the right place saves lives.”

Boone said he was happy with the cooperation of all the entities involved in the drill.

“Everyone works so well together,” boon said. “We all have the same driving force, and that is to help all the people that are injured and in need while still keeping our emergency responders as safe as we can.”