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Annual emergency training simulates natural disaster

The bright sunshine and cool, dry weather of an October morning were the setting for a (fake) tornado that blew through Woodland High School (not really) Monday.

The “tornado” was a simulation put together through a cooperative effort of Randolph County Schools, Tanner Hospital, and Southern Ambulance Transport, who all participated in a joint emergency drill at the school.

“Basically they used our facility and some of our students to do a live-action mock emergency to test their system,” said Woodland principal Brett Waites. “It was as if a tornado came through and affected so many people at the school, and what the response would be to it.”

Woodland students were made up with fake injuries from a tornado strike. The event gave all three entities a chance to test their abilities, to assess the situation, and take care of the students quickly.

“They used 10 of our students,” Waites said. “So they come in with full-on, move theater, look like walking dead kind of injuries. So they kind of fixed them up, and different people had different injuries. They had cards on them that told them what was wrong with each one. Then the EMTs come in and assess which injuries needed to do what and then they transported them to the hospital.”

The “injured” students rode in ambulances to the hospital in Wedowee, where their injuries were assessed and treatments prescribed.

“Some were looked at and discharged home, some were supposed to have to stay and some were supposed to have to be flighted somewhere else, but they kind of just simulated that once they got down to the hospital,” Waites said.

School officals also participated, along with medical personnel, in order to carry out the necessary protocols from the school system’s side of it.

“So people from the central office come over just like they would in a real emergency and they are able to look up students and contact the right people, so they simulated that part of it too,” Waites said.

The training is an annual event that has typically taken place at one of the schools in the county. This year Allan Robertson, who is the principal at Wedowee Middle School and the Randolph County School System’s safety coordinator, asked Waites if he would be willing to host this year’s training session, and Waites readily agreed.

“It’s really interesting because, one, you’re seeing kids as if they were actually hurt, and sometimes that has an affect on people,” Waites said. “It’s kind of eye opening as far as how hectic it can be when it all comes together like that.”