Sampson County officials announced this week that they will conduct a multi-agency exercise on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012 between the hours of 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. in the vicinity of Midway Elementary School, Midway High School and Plain View Preschool on U.S. 421 in northern Sampson County.
Citizens are advised that there will be no road closures associated with the exercise; however there will be an increase in traffic and potential onlooker delays given the large number of emergency vehicles responding along the Highway 421 corridor in the vicinity of the schools. Those persons with scanners may hear unusual radio dispatches to the area as part of the drill, and should not be alarmed.
The training scenario, which is kept confidential to allow for the most realistic evaluation of the participating agencies, was designed by the training committee of the Sampson County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) to exercise the capabilities of law enforcement, emergency management, fire and rescue personnel, and for the first time will also test preparedness and procedures of county school facilities and staff. Participating agencies will include the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office; Sampson County Emergency Management and EMS; Sampson County volunteer fire and rescue departments, as well as Godwin-Falcon Fire Department and Dunn Emergency Services; State Emergency Management; Clinton Police Department; the North Carolina Highway Patrol; Sampson Regional Medical Center; Sampson County Schools, including faculty and staff from Midway Elementary and Midway High School, representatives from each school district, and members of the Midway High School Drama Club; Boy Scout Troop 26; and Plainview Preschool. The Ladies Auxiliary for Plainview Fire Department will be assisting with the preparation of the meal for participants. The exercise response will be evaluated by representatives from Bladen County and Cumberland County Emergency Management, the Duplin County Sheriff’s Department and Sampson Community College. The costs of the exercise are funded by state emergency management grant funds.
Emergency Management Services director Ronald Bass expressed his appreciation to those who have agreed to participate in what is expected to be the largest scale exercise ever conducted in Sampson County. “Exercises of this nature provide a valuable opportunity for responders to test our capabilities in the most realistic scenarios. This specific exercise will afford us the chance to test our inter-agency cooperation in what is called a Unified or Area Command situation. Sampson County is fortunate that we have hundreds of men and women trained and equipped to respond to the emergency needs of our citizens, but ultimately our ability to provide successful response to a large natural or man-made event is determined by our ability to employ this training and our resources in a cohesive and structured fashion.”
Bass also complimented the LEPC training committee, specifically assistant EMS director Jerry Cashwell, deputy fire marshal Prentice Madgar and Cpt. Eric Pope of the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office for their efforts, noting that they had been planning the exercise for nearly a year.
Cashwell added that the value of the exercise may have already been achieved in that planning process, “Exercises are most often a success before they even begin, as the planning process highlights areas to examine for modification or improvement.”