Exercise tests participating agencies’ ability to respond to hazardous incidents
by Elane Jones
May 30, 2013 | 1724 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Members of several law enforcement agencies, Emergency Management Agencies, local fire departments, emergency medical personnel and volunteer actors participated in the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program held Wednesday in downtown Jasper. Daily Mountain Eagle - Elane Jones
Members of several law enforcement agencies, Emergency Management Agencies, local fire departments, emergency medical personnel and volunteer actors participated in the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program held Wednesday in downtown Jasper. Daily Mountain Eagle - Elane Jones
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The disaster exercise conducted in downtown Jasper Wednesday tested the ability of the agencies in the Alabama Region 5 Mutual Aid Systems to respond to a multi-hazard incident.

Approximately 130 members from various law enforcement and emergency management agencies from around the region, as well as a number of local firefighters, paramedics and volunteers, participated in the training was conducted at the Jasper City Jail.

“Our department has never lead one of these training exercises as far as I’m aware, but it was a really good experience for us,” Jasper Police Chief Connie Rowe said. “And to host it and have so many scenarios going, I feel really good about how things went. It was a learning experience for us.”

Rowe said her department learned a lot during the exercise including several kinks they need to work on so they will know how to circumvent those problems in a real life situation.

The scenarios conducted throughout the day during the disaster exercise involved a jail riot at the Jasper City Jail and a hazardous material spill near Town Creek.

The exercise planning team selected target capabilities on which they focused the exercise.

Each participating agency was evaluated on the four following objectives which were created to exercise those target capabilities:

•Incident Command System/Unified Command

•Communications

•Weapons of Mass Destruction/Hazardous Materials Response

•Public Safety and Security Response.

And, according to Timothy Greer of the Florence/Lauderdale Emergency Management Agency, who addressed all the participants during the “hotwash” or debriefing at the close of the exercise, the exercise was a success.

“The whole point of this process is to identify things that can be improved upon, not just point out where these agencies deficiencies are, but also point out were their strengths are, so they can build on those strengths and improve those deficiencies,” Greer said.

“When you start bring in different agencies from different jurisdiction on a disaster, communication is always a big problem. So exercises like this help us all get on the same page.”

Once all the evaluations are done and the reports turned in, Greer said work will begin on an improvement plan that will integrate all the necessary improvements to put all the AMAS Region 5 agencies that participated in Wednesday’s exercise on that page.