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Be prepared for today’s drill and more

Riverpark Medical Center, 107 Front St., Vidalia, will be the scene of a disaster from 2 until 5 p.m. today — but it is only a drill.

I repeat — the disaster at Riverpark Medical Center in Vidalia today is only a drill.

If it were an actual emergency, it would be a lot worse, especially if the personnel involved in today’s mock disaster had not been through today’s training.

Today’s mock disaster will simulate an active shooter incident to give first responders and other emergency and medical personnel a chance to practice their emergency preparedness skills.

Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office personnel, emergency medical responders, Vidalia police and fire personnel and other emergency workers will be on the scene, working to help heal and tend to victims, who will be played by volunteers.

To people who are not aware of the drill, the scene is sure to look scary, but organizers have done everything they can to make the public aware that today’s event is only a simulated training exercise.

For others, however, the drill could be a disruption of their normal routine, by diverting their regular traffic routes or schedules, but the inconvenience is worth it and is a small price to pay for our emergency first responders to gain valuable training experience in a safe and controlled environment.

Unfortunately, in today’s world, we are more and more experiencing real life incidents of active shooters or other acts of mass violence.

“The exercise is being conducted in order to test and improve your community’s overall preparedness for an emergency event,” organizers said in a press statement.

Hopefully, the training gained in today’s event will never have to be used, but like insurance, you can’t afford not to have it.

In announcing the training exercise, organizers at Riverpark Medical Center also advise residents to be prepared for emergencies themselves.

“There are simple steps that Americans can take to prepare themselves and their loved ones for emergencies: be informed, make a plan, build a disaster supply kit and get involved through opportunities that support community preparedness,” said Stephanie Petty, RN, of Riverpark. “By gathering supplies to meet basic needs, discussing what to do during an emergency with your family in advance and being aware of the risks and appropriate actions, you will be better prepared for the unexpected and can help better prepare your community and the country.”

Indeed, today’s exercise is a great opportunity for us all to stop and think about our own plans for disasters, whether the disaster is a house fire, a tornado or other natural disaster or a terrorist attack, such as a mass shooting.

Get your family together and map out a plan for several different scenarios, such as where to meet up, how to contact each other or where to find a prepared medical and emergency kit.

Also check the batteries on your smoke detectors and make sure everyone in the house knows how to escape in case of fire and who to call in case of emergencies.

You can never have enough training to be prepared for any emergencies but a basic plan is a good starting point.

Such is the case with Vidalia’s disaster drill from 2 to 5 p.m. today, and it is a perfect reminder to all of us to be prepared.

Scott Hawkins is editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at 601-445-3540 or scott.hawkins@natchezdemocrat.com.

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