The Alexander City Fire Department prepares a survivor for transport during Wednesday’s disaster drill. Local agencies participated in the exercise, which simulated response to a plane crash. | Robert Hudson
The Alexander City Fire Department prepares a survivor for transport during Wednesday’s disaster drill. Local agencies participated in the exercise, which simulated response to a plane crash. | Robert Hudson

Archived Story

Disaster drill

Published 11:42am Thursday, May 2, 2013
Rescuers airlift a firefighter via helicopter. | Robert Hudson
Rescuers airlift a firefighter via helicopter. | Robert Hudson

Tallapoosa County’s annual disaster drill Wednesday morning included a simulated plane crash, gas leak

With the knowledge that disaster could strike at any moment, county agencies came together Wednesday to make sure they’re ready for just about anything.

The Tallapoosa County Emergency Management Agency coordinated a disaster drill with various other county and city departments and organizations.

Joe Paul Boone, director of Tallapoosa County EMA, said drills like the one held on Wednesday give local agencies a chance to test their response capabilities while building cohesion.

“This gives all of our agencies a chance to work together without there being a loss of life or injuries,” Boone said. “We asked all of our agencies to participate, and we had lots of those people here. There are lots of things we do during these drills, and we want to utilize all of our agencies as much as we can.”

Representatives from each participating agency gathered at the Emergency Operating Center inside the Betty Carol Graham Technology Center to relay information throughout the drill.

The drill started with a simulated gas leak at city hall, as well as the police and fire departments.

Lt. Randy Walters with the Alexander City Police Department said police were tasked with evacuating and transporting prisoners.

“The first exercise was a gas leak at the police department, so we played a major role with that where we had to evacuate the police department, including evacuation of our prisoners,” Walters said. “The prisoners were actually transported to Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Office where they were housed during our gas leak.”

Following the gas leak, police, fire and rescue personnel responded to a simulated plane crash near Thomas C. Russell Field.

Rescuers were tasked with transporting survivors to the hospital, as well as having two people airlifted away for medical treatment via helicopter.

Boone said every drill is a learning experience, and one area that needs improvement is communication.

“It seemed like everything went real well with our drill today. As always, we had some communications problems that we want to work on,” Boone said. “That’s one of the reasons we do drills – because communication is so important to us.”

Participating agencies included the Alexander City Fire Department, Alexander City Police Department, public utilities, Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department, EMA, Alabama Lakes Chapter of the American Red Cross, Russell Medical Center, Alexander City Rescue Squad, the Lake Martin Area United Way, Salvation Army, Sugar Creek Waste Water Treatment Facility Alabama DPS Aviation Division and Lifesaver/AirEvac Air Medical.

Agencies will receive an after action review in a few days to go over what went well and what needed improvement.