On Saturday, Sept. 22, Greene County Emergency Services conducted a Mass Casualty Incident exercise at the William Monroe High School. The purpose of the exercise was to evaluate the operational capability and readiness of personnel in a stressful environment that simulates actual conditions.
We chose a school bus accident for the scenario as this type of event has occurred recently within Greene County and we felt there were areas of improvement that still exist. This exercise tested various functions of our Emergency Operations Plan, including the mobilization of emergency personnel, equipment and resources.
There were goals and objectives established prior to the exercise. It was essential that we approached the following areas: testing the capabilities of our public safety entities and the school system, providing ourselves with an avenue to identify deficiencies and problems, familiarize personnel with plans/procedures through exercise activities, prepare agencies to coordinate at the local level, enhance collaboration between all disciplines, provide a training avenue for personnel to utilize certain types of response equipment, and increase confidence of all personnel while strengthening our overall ability to respond effectively to an emergency.
Evaluators and safety officers were assigned to specific disciplines to monitor and review their performance during the exercise. During the post-incident critique, they provided valuable feedback and recommendations for improvement. Overall, we definitely viewed the exercise as a success and plan to continue this type of training on a regular basis.
The exercise would not have been possible without the help of numerous agencies. I personally thank the Stanardsville Volunteer Fire Department, Ruckersville Volunteer Fire Company, Dyke Volunteer Fire Department, Greene County Rescue Squad, University of Virginia Medic V, Madison County Volunteer Fire Department, Madison County Volunteer Rescue Squad, Barboursville Volunteer Fire Company, Greene County Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police, Greene County Public School System and the Greene County Culinary Arts Program for their hard work, dedication, and participation.
I also thank Dr. Debra Perina, Dr. Doug Gallo, Mike Dickerson, George Chesebro, Enoch Hord, Richard Beery, Marcus Shifflett, Richard Herring, Justin Lacey, Kathy Hatter, Bob Townsend, Andrea Whitmarsh, Sheriff Steve Smith, Major Russell Lane, Deputy Jim Donohue, Deputy Paul Lester, Captain Charles Swingler, Communications Officers Melissa Robertson, Kim Lettner, Danielle Wyant and Tami Steighner, Trooper Scott Miller, Alan Mazurowski, Steve Weeks, Chip Hart, Bill Hamm, Tom Cornell, Sharon Pederson, Margery Farner, Paul Hickin, Donna Chesebro, Nina Wright, Hope Mazurowski, the local students that participated in the drill as “victims”, their parents, the Greene County School Administration, and all Greene County bus drivers for their assistance during the pre-planning phases of the exercise and for their participation in the actual event.
I also want to recognize Raul Arbelaez, Brenda O’Donnell and Vickie Hoover from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for their donation of $1,000 toward lunch for all volunteers, evaluators, parents, and children.
Their donation to the Greene County Culinary Arts Program allowed students within the program to prepare an outstanding lunch for approximately 100 people. These students also received credit towards their class regarding this project, so we feel it was a “win-win” situation for all those involved.
On a personal note, I was extremely pleased with the turnout we had regarding participation for this exercise. These agencies and individuals volunteered their time and energy in order to enhance public safety aspects within Greene County. I truly appreciate your efforts and everyone should be proud of a job well done.
I want to recognize the Greene County Board of Supervisors for its continued support of emergency services and thank board members Clarence “Buggs” Peyton and David Cox for their attendance that Saturday.
If you have any questions regarding the exercise, emergency services or becoming a volunteer in our public safety community, please feel free to contact me at (434) 985-2222.
Greene County Emergency Services Manager