Several personnel and representatives from organizations throughout Coffee County took part in a special exercise on Wednesday, hosted by the county’s Emergency Management Agency.
The tabletop exercise featured various scenarios regarding tornadoes in the area and how to respond to them and deal with their aftermath, and the exercise was intended to create a discussion between multiple agencies, according to EMA Director James Brown.
“(This is) preparing us for our full scale exercise that we’d like to do more so toward the spring,” Brown said. “It will test our ability to actually respond and recover from a tornado. I know some of you in the room have actually been through one, so you have a lot of good experience. Please use that today. This is a discussion-based exercise — if you don’t discuss anything, you can’t learn anything.”
Taking part in the exercise were personnel from Medical Center Enterprise, Coffee County Public Health, Kinston Fire Department, New Brockton Fire Department, Enterprise Fire Department, volunteer fire departments, Enterprise Police Department, Enterprise City Schools, Coffee County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), the City of Elba and Fort Rucker, among others.
“We want you to discuss what you know in this exercise so we can pass that on to somebody else and maybe someone can learn something from it,” Brown said. “It’s kind of like a conference. Whenever I go to a conference, I hear about 20 speakers and just hope to get one thing out of it. If you get one thing out of this today, I’ll be happy. Look for that one thing you can use and take back to your organizations to help make things better.”
EMA Deputy Director Grant Lyons presented three different “modules” as part of the exercise, all featuring tornado scenarios to be approached with different considerations and priorities.
For example, the first module included a scenario in which it is Wednesday, June 25, at 2 in the afternoon.
“The Storm Prediction Center has issued a tornado watch,” Lyons said, describing the scenario. “One hour later, heavy rain and lighting hits. One inch of rain has fallen and tornado sirens are heard across the county, and now tornado warnings have been broadcast. 15 minutes after that tornado siren was heard, a tornado touches down in Enterprise near the Enterprise Early Education Center and is moving north/northeast at 20 to 30 miles per hour, with a width of about 100 meters and wind speeds of higher than 150. Dispatch is receiving emergency calls from residents in its path.”
Lyons identified one positive regarding the scenario — with it being June, school is not in session.
Participants were given handouts featuring discussion questions regarding the scenario. Some of the questions were, “How will the community activate resources in the current situation?”, “What warning and emergency information systems are available in your community and who is responsible for activating them?” and “What are some of the decisions you will have to make?”
In total, the exercise lasted around an hour.