Pike County learns to “Be Prepared” for emergencies

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, September 12, 2013

By Jeb Sharp

The Pike County EMA hosted “Be Prepared” Day at Troy University’s Trojan Arena on Thursday where participants were able to meet with various local businesses and government agencies in order to better understand how to protect themselves in case of a disaster.

In the United States, September has been designated National Preparedness Month. Thursday’s event was held as part of a collaborative effort across the nation to ready citizens for both natural and manmade emergencies.

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Only one day after Sept. 11, Pike County’s “Be Prepared” Day also held a service to honor all emergency responders, especially those who died in the 9-11 attacks.

Col. Christopher Shannon, Associate Director of the Institute of Leadership Development, headlined the service and spoke about his admiration for the brave men and women who gave their lives in order to save the innocent victims of the attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Shannon was on the south side of the Pentagon when American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the west side of the building.

“We first saw the footage of the plane hitting the World Trade Center, and I could only think, ‘Surely this can’t be happening in America,’” he said.

When the plane hit the Pentagon where Shannon was working, he remained in disbelief.

“Suddenly, we have people telling us to leave the building. We get out into the hallway and there is a heat you cannot even imagine,” Shannon said. “I see a giant fireball that comes up from the jet fuel catching fire.”

As Shannon walked away from the building, the first responders moved in.

“I saw blood-stained, dirty individuals moving away from the parking lot into the building, and, then, these brave first responders walked into the flames,” Shannon recalled. “They put their lives on the line to save people they didn’t even know.”

Shannon concluded his speech with a charge to the residents of Pike County.

“Say thank you to our Pike County first responders,” he said, reminding those present to “build strong relationships for when the inevitable crisis occurs.”

Pike County EMA Director Jenna Barns also had kind words to say to Pike County first responders. “We are blessed to have so many heroes who dedicate their lives to protect others.”

Barns also added, “Pike County is fortunate to have elected officials who are dedicated to keeping their citizens safe in times of crisis.”

One of those elected officials, Troy Mayor Jason Reeves, was the next to take the stage and honor Pike County’s emergency workers. Reeves spoke from a place of experience as someone who can understand exactly what it means to serve the public in times of crisis. His father was a police officer.

“As a child of public safety, you realize when they get up in the morning the first responders don’t know what they will be doing that day, and they face these challenges with grace and honor,” Reeves said.

The mayor also noted he stands behind Pike County’s public safety workers.

“It is important to me that you have what you need to do your job,” Reeves said.

Reeves finished his speech with a personal word of thanks to the first responders present.

“Not as a mayor, but as a parent, I want to thank all of you that came to help,” he said.

Reeves was referring to a Dec. 28, 2012 incident when his youngest son, Ben, had a seizure. Firstresponders helped him through the scary situation.

“A normal day for you, is the worst day of someone else’s life,” Reeves said.