Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Emergency Response Exercise – Hamilton County, TN

I have taken part in more than a few emergency response exercises over too many years. In the military we called them ‘alerts’ and practiced many of the things that we would do in the event of the sudden need to go to war. In chemical plants we practiced what we would do in the event of fires, explosions and leaks. The more completely the system is tested, the better the response will be in the event of an actual emergency. That’s why I was happy to see how extensive the emergency response drill being conducted today in Hamilton County, TN is planned to be.

According to the report from the Chattanooga Times Free Press (courtesy of Homeland1.com), in addition to the annual fire department, hazmat, police department drill at the local training center, the exercise will utilize the Reverse 911 system to notify local residents about the exercise. Just in case some people misunderstand the notification and think it is the real thing, the local health department is manning a phone bank to answer questions and explain what is going on.

Evaluation of the exercise is as important as the actual exercise itself. This has not been lost on the planners of this exercise. The article quotes an emergency response coordinator from the health department as saying that after the test, the health department will call some residents and ask them to take a survey to gauge how well the exercise worked.

Congratulations to the men and women of the emergency response community of Hamilton County, TN. It sounds like you are going to be having a valuable drill today. Good luck, have fun, and hopefully you’ll never have to do it for real.

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