Exercise tests the reaction and knowledge of emergency agencies
It was only an exercise, but for many it could have been real. This was how Boonville and Cooper County officials were treating a scenario derived by Cooper County Emergency Operations Director Tom White Friday afternoon.
“The exercise kicked off at 1 p.m., with a simulated motor vehicle accident on Fuqua Drive near the former Fuqua Homes locations. The exercise involved multiple vehicles and an overturned tanker, which was leaking anhydrous ammonia. There were multiple casualties. The entities who responded set up a command post with mutual aid from the Cooper County Fire Protection Agency HASMAT Team. They went in and worked the incident to stop the leak first. They then assessed the casualties and injuries. Once the leak was contained mutual aid was called in from the area,” Boonville Parks Director Gary Nauman said.
Although the exercise occurred on Fuqua Drive an area surrounding the premisses was also sectioned off so no one could enter. This perimeter included a circle surrounding most of the Fuqua lot leading up to Radio Hill Road.
Once the exercise was over at 3 p.m., all participants gathered at the Boonville High School parking lot to discuss problems and obstacles faced with the scenario.
“One thing you do not want to do is take shortcuts in a training exercise because you will do that in real life,” White said.
While each agency discussed strategy and troubles, overall the the exercise went well.
“I saw a lot of good effort and professionalism out there,” White said.
During the exercise different scenarios were thrust at the agencies to simulate a real event.
“When you have an exercise such as this you have to throw wrinkles at it. You have no idea what you will come against in a real event,” Nauman said.
Once such wrinkle included a media infiltration of the scene, which included an individual taking pictures closer than they should have been. The police responded quickly to the infiltration.
It is this realism that White wanted to get across to the responders.
“Everybody has to respond and react. When you don't train, people will not know what to do,” Nauman said.