Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

August 12, 2013

Aug. 21 disaster drill planned at J’ville, Rusk school campuses

Progress staff reports
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Schools campuses in Jacksonville and Rusk will be the sites of an Aug. 21 community disaster drill, which allows local and county agencies to prepare for the possibility of such an event, said organizers.

Jacksonville Fire Chief Paul White said “the Community Emergency Response Team has been in place for several years and strives to promote partnering between first responders, hospitals, city officials and citizens of Cherokee County.  CERT has been established as part of the emergency response capability and we continue to provide education in disaster preparedness and response for area residents.”

This year's event is a simulated active shooting and hostage incident where Jacksonville and Rusk school districts will test their emergency response plans, with “portrayed victims triaged at the scene and transported to local hospitals as needed,” according to a CERT release.

“The initial incident will occur on the Jacksonville Middle School campus and Rusk Independent School District will participate as the incident escalates with a mock-up anthrax attack. Local Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) volunteers will open a Point of Dispensing (POD) site at the Rusk High School and simulate dispensing prophylactic antibiotics to citizens exposed to agent,” the release stated.

Dozens of law enforcement, EMS, hospital staff, school district members and others will be participating in the drill, which is scheduled on a teacher workday and will not affect JISD students.

“Emergency preparedness cannot happen in a vacuum; therefore it is critical for agencies to collaborate when preparing for events such as this. Agencies must coordinate planning efforts within the context of the community. This exercise  allows stakeholders to have a better understanding of local, state and regional resources, improve organizational processes, and address any future needs,” explained Karen Adams, ETMC Jacksonville, committee co-chair.   

Because of emergency vehicle traffic in the area of the event, community members may wish to plan alternate travel routes to avoid any delays, advise organizers.