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Mock shooting situation

Published 1:29pm Friday, June 7, 2013

Reeltown undergoes homeland security drill

Tallapoosa County agencies participated in a drill that could help build cohesion with other counties in dealing with disasters.

A mock disaster drill was held at Reeltown High School Thursday. Agencies from eight counties, including Tallapoosa County, worked together and pooled their resources.

Fire and police departments, as well as volunteer agencies such as the United Way, worked together to respond to three mock disasters.

Joe Paul Boone, director of the Tallapoosa County Emergency Management Agency, said more than 200 people participated in the drill that simulated an active shooter, as well as an explosion, a HAZMAT spill and rescue operations in the area.

“Things went real well. We had about eight counties that participated in the drill, and they brought resources from their counties,” Boone said. “Today was an excellent time for us to start participating with other counties as far as mutual-aid agreements and working with other departments.”

An EOC (Emergency Operations Center) was set up in the Reeltown High School cafeteria where representatives from each participating agency gathered and relayed crucial information.

Stephan Tomlin, Lake Martin Area United Way initiatives coordinator, said her role at the EOC was to get information about what was happening with the active shooter drill and distribute it through social media.

“My job was to let the 211 call center know where the safe zone was for the kids once they got the children out of the school. Also, we let them know where the parents could pick them up and that parents needed IDs to pick their children up,” Tomlin said. “We tried to use Facebook today to get the message out, as well. We partnered up with the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department as they used Twitter to help get the word out.”

The Alexander City Fire Department, Alexander City HAZMAT unit and the Dadeville Police Department’s HAZMAT unit each participated in the hazardous spill portion of the drill.

Dadeville Police Department Lt. Chris Martin said the hazardous material scenario involved identifying the chemical that had been spilled and handling the situation properly.

“There was a hazardous materials scenario where they had an auto accident in which a trailer that was towing several drums of hazardous materials overturned and spilled,” Martin said. “We had to recognize the placards, mitigate it, plug it and then handle that part of the exercise.”

Martin added the drill was a great opportunity to practice using radio equipment while in HAZMAT gear, as well as a great way to build a closer relationship between the Dadeville and Alexander City HAZMAT units.

“In the future, you never know what will happen, so it’s good to have a working relationship because we’re so close to each other,” Martin said.

Thursday’s drill was funded by a grant awarded to the City of Montgomery, Homeland Security and the Emergency Management Association allowed multiple agencies to work together in a full-scale drill.

The end result is a report that gets filed with the state and U.S. departments of homeland security, which will be factored into how state and national security funds are distributed in the future.