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A tornado struck Etowah county causing a passenger bus to collide with a truck transporting hazardous waste. Several passengers where seriously injured and the driver of the truck was killed. Well, not really. This scenario was all part of a training exercise planned by the Local Emergency Planning Commission (LEPC) which enabled several emergency response organizations to train together in a “worst case scenario”.
Many such “accidents” were staged around Etowah County with volunteers from the community acting as civilians who were injured or trying to locate missing relatives. The local police and fire departments, ambulance services, EMA, Red Cross and other emergency responders, including SAFEWAY INDUSTRIAL SERVICES, LLC, participated in the training exercise. From cleaning up the hazardous waste spill, triaging the injured, decontaminating those with chemical exposure and coordinating efforts to transport patients to local hospitals, area responders were able to experience actual conditions and how best to delegate responsibilities and communicate within the enlarged framework. The mock disaster also called upon area institutions such as The Gadsden Library which was the stage for the American Red Cross’ efforts to reconnect families and communicate with the public.
LEPC President, Michael Amberson, was pleased with the outcome. “It was very involved…and it went very well. We had some issues with communication, but nothing major. Overall, it went well.”
Having the opportunity to work together as a whole and practice under these conditions is a vital part of functioning at peak performance in the event of a real disaster. It appears Etowah County citizens can rest a little easier knowing their emergency responders are ready!