Dramatic drill gives practice for emergencies

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 10, 2000

During community-wide disaster drill Friday, the simulated &uot;death&uot; of a policeman, a train accident and a chemical spill equaled good practice for Natchez agencies.

The annual drill, which took place on Briel Avenue, is meant to prepare agencies for the event of a real disaster. The Local Emergency Preparedness Committee coordinated the drill.

About local 25 agencies and businesses spent the past year planning the exercise.

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&uot;I think it was very well planned,&uot; said George Souderes, Adams County civil defense director. &uot;The agencies that took part in it were very much concerned about making this exercise one of the better ones we’ve ever had.&uot;

The local committee has conducted an annual drill since 1988 but to add to this year’s realism the members did not tell the agencies, the location, exact time or type of emergency that would be created.

This gave an element of surprise to the drill, Souderes said.

Students from Alcorn’s Baccalaureate School of Nursing and Natchez High School’s JROTC acted as victims injured or killed by the accident.

Students said the drill is a fun exercise that is also important.

&uot;Because if it happens for real everybody needs to be prepared and know what they have to do,&uot; said Tasha Green, a 10th-grader at Natchez High School.

During the drill, the agencies acted as though they were dealing with police officer killed by a train, which resulted in the train accident, chemical spill and school bus accident.

Many of the students enjoyed the chance to dramatically act out their injuries.

&uot;They were exceptionally good this year,&uot; Souderes said. &uot;It was just like they had been rehearsing for particular exercise as long as we’ve been planning it on paper.&uot;

Dan Magee of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency came to Natchez to observe the event.

He was impressed with how the Natchez group conducted the exercise.

&uot;It’s very realistic,&uot; Magee said.

He hopes to pick up tips from the Natchez’s drill to assist other emergency preparedness committees in similar exercises.

&uot;Adams County is one of the most active local emergency planning committees in the state,&uot; he said.

Souderes said the committee would meet next week to critique what took place during the drill.

&uot;We do an exercise to test our capabilities, not to find fault with anybody or any agency,&uot; he said.

Communication among all the different agencies is often a challenge, Souderes said.