The brakes fail on a school bus, resulting in a rear-end collision with a delivery vehicle transporting hazardous materials. The force of the impact rips open the rear of the delivery vehicle, rupturing and spilling some of the contents. This results in contamination of individuals. Injuries occur to some of the occupants. Evacuation of an apartment complex and day care center will be necessary.
Upson County's emergency response preparedness was put to the test Thursday afternoon in a disaster drill which involved scores of emergency responders.
The drill, a full-scale exercise, began just after 4:30 p.m. and involved Thomaston Police, Upson Sheriff's Department, EMS, Georgia State Patrol, Upson Regional Medical Center, Thomaston fire department, volunteer fire departments, Georgia Emergency Management Agency's Hazardous Materials Response Team and Georgia State Patrol.
"We have to make sure we are prepared in the event of a disaster," said Upson Emergency Management Director Billy Mitcham, the exercise coordinator during the drill.
"We generally have a drill every year, but we have a full-scale exercise like this only once every four years," he said.
The drill began with an alert that an accident involving hazardous materials had occurred near Upson-Lee South Elementary School.
The first to respond was the Upson County Sheriff's Department. suspecting that hazardous materials are involved, a perimeter was set up as authorities notified the fire department, the state patrol, EMS and the Macon-Bibb County Hazardous Materials team, which would respond in our area.
The county's mobile emergency command center - a modified school bus called Command One - was activated. A decontamination tent was set up as law enforcement authorities moved to evacuate an apartment complex and day care center.
An emergency shelter was set up at the Thomaston-Upson Civic Center by the American Red Cross and evacuees began to trickle in.
Following the two-hour exercise, those who responded gathered for supper at the Upson County Firing Range, where an evaluation meeting was held.
"It was a really good exercise that not only provided some good training, but showed that all of the different agencies that responded work well together," said Mitcham.
The drill's incident commander was Chief Eddie Lifsey of the Thomaston Fire Department. The fire department would have primary responsibilities during incidents involving hazardous materials.
"All in all, it went pretty well," Lifsey said. We discussed some shortcomings and learned a few things," he said. "Any time you have an incident of this magnitude with multi-agencies responding, communication can always be improved."