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Alarms no cause for alarm

By:  MARY STARR / The Brunswick News

March 17, 2009

 

People in the vicinity of the Brunswick Golden Isles Airport might hear sirens and whistles and see billowing smoke and emergency vehicles speeding by Wednesday.

There’s no need to be alarmed, though. The Glynn County Airport Commission has planned the realism as part of a disaster training drill.

This year’s scenario will be a mock airplane crash in the northeast corner of the airport grounds, close to Stambaugh Aviation and about one-half mile from Harry Driggers Boulevard in northern Glynn County.

The drill, which tests the airport’s emergency preparedness, is required every three years by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Capt. Jay Wiggins, director of the Glynn County Emergency Management Agency, said the drill helps agencies test their resources.

“We act in a supporting role with the airport commission,” said Wiggins, whose agency would coordinate county fi re, police and emergency medical services in a real disaster.

Wiggins can call for backup from other agencies, including city police and fire departments, as well as the Georgia Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency if the need is there.

The drill is designed to allow the emergency management agency to make sure its disaster plans meet or exceed federal and state standards, as well as the standards the agency sets for itself.

“It’s an opportunity to meet face-to-face with other agency personnel,” said Wiggins. “That way, if something happens, it won’t be the first time we’ve met.”

One of the organizations participating in Wednesday’s exercise will be Southeast Georgia Health System.

“Our role in the exercise is to receive, triage and care for any patients that the incident commander at the scene feels should be seen at our facility,” said Charlie Wolverton, director of the Safety and Security Department of Southeast Georgia Health System. “This allows us to test our emergency preparedness.”

In addition to emergency personnel, there will be more than 80 role players, pretend victims and evaluators at the scene.

Steve Brian, executive director of the Glynn County Airport Commission, said the majority of the pretend victims are recruited through the American Red Cross and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

To avoid frightening travelers at the airport, organizers will conduct the drill at 1 p.m., when no commercial flight is scheduled.

“We chose that time to avoid any commercial air traffic,” Brian said, adding the afternoon flight from Atlanta arrives about 4 p.m. and the return flight leaves around 5 p.m. “People (in the airport) will notice, but we will have signage to explain what’s going on.”

 

  As published in the March 17, 2009, The Brunswick News 

 

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