First responders to take part in emergency exercise

Published 3:47 pm Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Butler County is working to be better prepared for potential threats or emergencies.

The Butler County Emergency Management Agency will use a $20,917.14 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to fund a full-scale hazardous material exercise.

The county will be responsible for providing a 20 percent match.

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The exercise is intended to provide first responders with the opportunity to activate their response plan to a simulated crisis.

“The importance of an exercise like this is to exercise our County Emergency Operations Plan, and to find out what the strengths and weaknesses are in the county,” said Shirley Sandy, Butler County EMA director. “It also gives the first responders a chance to work together during a non-stressful event.”

Sandy said a date has not yet been set for the exercise, but that it will occur before Sept. 1, and will likely occur in July.

She said the original scenario for the exercise included a train hitting a school bus in McKenzie that resulted in a light hazardous materials release. While crews responded to that accident, a second incident involving airplane damage and a hostage situation at the Mac Crenshaw Memorial Airport would occur.

However, the scenario will need to be altered due to a lack of funds.

“I expect to have some changes to it because we were not awarded as much as we had requested,” Sandy said.

Sandy will hold a planning meeting on Thursday to work on finalizing the scenario.