Emergency drill scheduled Nov. 15

There will be lots of lights and sirens in Barnwell County on November 15 but residents are not to worry – it is only a drill.

Barnwell County Emergency Management Director Roger Riley said South Carolina will be holding a full-scale disaster exercise that day. While the statewide exercise will simulate a mass power and communications outage, the Midlands Region will simulate an earthquake at a local high school resulting in mass casualties.

The drill will be held between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., said Riley. “Our goal is to help the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) with a mass casualty event,” he said.

A mobile hospital will be set up at the Barnwell County Airport, said Riley.

Participating in the exercise will be Barnwell County schools, law enforcement, emergency medical services, fire departments/first responders, emergency management, DHEC, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Savannah River Site, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, South Carolina State Guard, Air Methods helicopter ambulance and a local physician.

Some high school students are participating as “victims” in the disaster drill.

“We don’t want parents getting upset and thinking their children are in danger,” said Riley.

Riley said the purpose is to test the county’s resources, equipment and manpower and to “identify the gaps and make improvements so that when an actual event happens, these issues do not become problems.”

He said multiple incidents are not unheard of. “We have had four straight years of events – an ice storm with an earthquake and a major fire all on the same day, floods, tornadoes as well as Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. We can’t ever be too prepared.”

Riley said he wants to make sure the public is informed so people don’t get upset when the exercise is in play.

“Please don’t worry,” said Riley, “and tell your family and neighbors that this is just a drill.”