Emergency strategies taught at TRMC exercise

Published 9:39 pm Wednesday, August 6, 2014

You’re downtown on the square. It’s Troy Fest, and you’re enjoying spending time with friends and family on a breezy Sunday. All of a sudden there is a loud crash and screeching brakes from a nearby train. You see people begin running from the railroad crossing at Three Notch Street and an odd cloud of green smoke rising from the area. How would you react?

For three hours Wednesday at Troy Regional Medical Center, nineteen different emergency management agencies from around Pike County and Alabama came together to discuss emergency strategies used to handle a disaster, such as a hazardous material spill during a large city event.

Jeanna Barnes, the emergency management director, said a lot of planning went into giving the different agencies the opportunity to walk through a disaster scenario with the Tabletop Exercise, but the exercise gave the agencies to feed off of each other to improve plans.

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“It obviously gives us a chance to sit in a controlled environment where you can make mistakes on paper and see where you can improve your response or plans should an event like that occur,” Barnes said. “Not even just like this scenario, think in the back of your head, just any day type situation. So not only do we think about what we would do if this happened during Troy Fest but you can then think about it if this happened on an every day basis.”

Lt. Stephens Buford with the Troy Fire Department said the opportunity did not just give the agencies a chance to talk through a potential chaotic situation, but it gave the agencies the chance to see the capacities of each agency.

“It’s really nice to know the limitations and the abilities of every department and resource that’s in here,” Stephens said. “It’s nice to hear feedback from everybody. It kind of gives everyone a better understanding of what the capabilities are of each agency that’s involved and what to be expecting when we arrive on scene.”

While the hazardous situation was simulated for Troy Fest, which occurs in early April, Stephens said the incident could occur at any point in time.

“This could happen today,” Stephens said. “The scenario with the train hitting a passenger vehicle coming through Troy, I think we get three to four trains a day carrying hazardous material, a day, in 24 hours. It was all worse case scenario the way she broke it down, but it was all realistic.”

With the different agencies coming out, including the Troy Police Department, Troy Fire Department, Troy Fest committee and even the two ambulance services Barnes said the simulation was a success even though some agencies for Pike County were unable to make it.

“It was a great success,” Barnes said. “We had some that were not able to make it. We are in the business of response and handling different emergencies, so we understand when people have things come up at the last minute.”