Disaster Readiness Drill

By: Jummy Olabanji Email
By: Jummy Olabanji Email

May 10, 2007

Just how ready is our area for a mass emergency?

That question was put to the test Thursday as local emergency officials from Albemarle County, the City of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia met to undergo a mock emergency and mass casualty drill.

In the wake of the deadly storms that recently passed through the midwest, our local emergency officials aren't wasting anytime preparing for the worst.

"Essentially what we are doing is taking a look at what the possibilities could be if we have a very heavy rainfall and we need to possibly do some evacuations, set up some shelters, make some decisions now and practice in the event something like this happens in this area in the future," said Marge Thomas, our local Emergency Management Coordinator.

"We take an all hazard approach. Our task, our missions is to go out there and save lives and property, so we would be involved not only with fire and EMS work but evacuations to help the police department," said Albemarle County Fire Chief Dan Eggleston.

Officials gathered Thursday on UVa grounds in hopes that by perfecting each step along the way, any kinks in the system would be ironed out, and any emergency situation would go smoothly.

"Practice makes perfect, and we know this is an opportunity for the city, the county and the university to get together and exercise emergency operations plans, so if we were faced with an event like this, we will become familiar with the plans the interactions between different jurisdictions," said Eggleston.

Even though Charlottesville isn't as prone to life threatening weather in comparison to other areas, "Anything can happen anywhere, and we've certainly seen that recently. We want to be as prepared and as practiced as possible to protect our community," said Thomas.

Federal regulations require that these drills be conducted every five years to ensure communities are ready to respond to a potential widescale event.

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