Disaster drill runs smoothly

Published 11:42 pm Thursday, August 9, 2007

NATCHEZ — When the crop-duster crashed into the school bus, everything went nearly perfect.

That’s what local emergency officials said about Thursday’s community disaster drill staged at the Natchez-Adams County Airport Thursday morning.

In the scenario, the plane full of chemicals supposedly didn’t quite make a takeoff and ran into a bus full of students. Local students volunteered to play the parts of victims.

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Local ambulance services, law enforcement, firefighters and others were to respond as if it were real.

“I though it went very well for us to have a quick, small exercise so we could all get together to work as an emergency response group,” Adams County Civil Defense Director George Souderes said after the drill. “(It was intended) to keep us in tune and to keep us aware of who should be doing things.”

“All said and done, I think it went real well,” Tim Houghton, operations supervisor for American Medical Response, the ambulance service that headed up the drill, said.

The chain of command was set up and followed as if it were an actual event, and things went smoothly, he said.

The only glitch was in communication, he said.

“We hadn’t really established that this radio channel will be used for talking back and forth,” Houghton said.

“Within five minutes from the time we had representatives from every agency, we had (a channel) identified.”

Each department will make a detailed report of the drill. The agencies will likely meet next week and compare notes, he said.

That would be just to “nitpick” at minute details and make future responses even better, he said.

“Just judging by today, if this were to happen, Adams County has got itself a really good response system,” Houghton said.

Those agencies involved included American Medical Response, Natchez Community Hospital, Natchez Regional Medical Center, Metro Ambulance, the city fire department, the sheriff’s office, the airport, the school district and the county emergency management agency.