Emergency Preparedness Drill Tests Local First Responders

On Saturday, 75 active emergency personnel from Waverly, PA and its surrounding areas took part in an emergency drill to test local first responders’ preparedness. 20 different agencies participated in the drill, which took place in the former Tioga General Hospital building in Waverly.

Jo Ann Daly was one of the three fatally wounded in the mock scenario.

“Awesome,” was Daly’s response when speaking of the SWAT team’s work. They found her “dead” on the second floor of the building while make-believe blood leaked from her head. “Watching these guys come in and seeing their teamwork and training; it was impressive.”

Nine people were carried out from the building (among whom was Daly) in the first 90 minutes of the three-hour exercise, said Don Howard, Waverly-Barton Fire District Chief, who attended the drill. At that time, SWAT and Waverly Police were searching floor by floor for victims and suspects, while extrication was being done through a window on the second floor by the Sayre Fire Department’s ladder truck.

The drill dramatized a shooting and chemical explosion in a school building and was carried on to test the agencies’ cooperative capability, as it required working together in this event from beginning to end.

Tom McCartney, regional coordinator of the NY State Office of Emergency Management said, “It’s obvious from this and other drills of this nature they’ve done that Tioga County plays well in the sand box with outside entities. They have a leaning-forward posture and a relationship-building culture, which is key in responding to situations of this magnitude.”

The drill began with a teacher calling 9-1-1 to report hearing gunfire in the building at around 9 a.m. About six minutes later, the first batch of police entered the building with their guns in hand.

Gun shots were heard four seconds after they entered.

Live rounds were not used in the simulation.

Besides having a live shooter and a little bit of smoke in the building, the exercise also had a complete hazardous materials response by Tioga County and Elmira HazMat teams. When police searched the building, they found a Clan Lab, which had exposed some victims to chemicals.

Victims were extricated and decontaminated.

Doug Vaughn, a police officer that participated in the drill said, “You can’t say something like this will never happen here. It’ll be very different if this were the real thing, but this gives a taste of what it’ll be like.”

“Unfortunately,” he says, “you just never know these days.”

To read the Morning Times article, click here:
http://www.morning-times.com/articles/2010/10/04/local_news/doc4ca9c7dcb1b73378841471.txt