Local first responders participated in an emergency preparedness exercise hosted by the Floyd County Local Emergency Planning Committee on Wednesday, May 8.
Officials have worked for more than a year to plan this drill, which featured a mock tornado that damaged homes and businesses and prompted the “evacuation” of Highlands Regional and the transportation of “victims” to other local health care facilities.
“This is a continuation of a tabletop exercise we did last year,” Emergency Management Director Tim Fields said.
He said the National Weather Service plotted the “most likely path” a tornado would take if it hit Floyd County, and that path included the Middle Creek area, Auxier and other areas.
Fields said hospitals throughout the county and as far away as Ashland participated in the drill, as did Big Sandy Health Care in Auxier, Air Evac Lifeteam, Lifeguard Ambulance, Carl D. Perkins Job Corps Center, the Floyd County Emergency & Rescue Squad and several fire departments. Fields also tested the county’s Code Red emergency alert system during the drill.
“You talk about it, talk about it, talk about it, but when it comes time to do it, you find stuff that you didn’t think about,” Fields said.
Auxier Volunteer Fire Department Captain Judy Greer said participating in the drill led her department to change its emergency response plan. Prior to this drill, the department’s procedures required firefighters to turn out at the fire department in Auxier, but under this scenario, the fire department was damaged in the mock tornado.
“The National Weather Service has told us that it is a likelihood that it could happen again, so we’re not going to get caught with all of our trucks in the fire department,” she said.
She and other participants said the drill helped them learn what to do if a disaster like that struck the county.
“This helps us train and we see the good things that happens and the bad things, and it helps us work out the bugs, just like this morning, we’ve had a few little bugs that’s not worked just right, but we have to work those out and go on,” Greer said.
Dalton Lewis, a firefighter at the Allen Volunteer Fire Department, portrayed a “victim” at the event.
“It’s just to help us get a better understanding of what we need to do and where we need to be and what needs to happen if we’re to make — to help everyone around,” he said.