Randy Mitchell Special Correspondent
The Ada News
Part two of a series of exercises involving a mock disaster to help train and evaluate first responders will be conducted Thursday, April 11.
Chad Letellier, Pontotoc County emergency management director, wants residents to know the drill will only be an exercise. April 11’s exercise will be a continuation of last year’s drill, which was a mass casualty event involving a tornado.
Letellier said last year’s scenario was a success.
This year’s scenario will be a full-scale exercise for county and city emergency responders. It involves a fictitious tornado which will touch down near County Road 1580 southwest of Latta and evolve into an EF-4 tornado as it passes through Latta and Ada before it disappears just south of Francis.
“This time, we’re concentrating on search and rescue activities,” Letellier said. “We will have some ‘injured victims’ as well. Last year we had 150 to 170 victims, but this year we’re only going to have 45. We’re also going to exercise our fatality management plan, so we’ll have 15 ‘fatalities’ as well.”
The exercise will be conducted at several places, including Pontotoc Technology Center and the Agri-Plex. A search will be conducted north of the intersection of Lonnie Abbott and Stone Bridge, but Letellier said none of the exercise should interfere with traffic.
“This will be an evaluated exercise by an outside agency,” Letellier said. “We’re going to exercise and evaluate staging area, command, search and rescue operations and the emergency operations center. We’re going to be doing some confined space rescue, some high-angle rescue, rope rescue, wide area search, debris search. It’ll be as close to reality as you can make it.”
Letellier said the exercise will be conducted each year for several years, and it will focus on separate areas of response each year until the final year.
“What we’re going to do is exercise the same exact scenario over the next five years,” Letellier said prior to last year’s drill.