Emergency response agencies from Randolph County and the Town of Wedowee will join the Randolph County School System and Tanner Health System on Feb. 18 to ensure that local first responders are ready if - and when - a disaster occurs.

The exercise will involve AirEvac Lifeteam, the Randolph County Board of Education, Randolph County Emergency Management Agency, Randolph County E-911, the Randolph County Sheriff's Office, Southern Ambulance Transport, Tanner Medical Center/East Alabama, Wadley Police Department, Wedowee Police Department and the Wedowee Volunteer Fire Department.

The drill will allow agencies to test elements of local emergency response plans, including agencies' ability to communicate and coordinate with one another, shelter students and reunite families after a disaster, establish an on-scene command center, secure a school facility following a disaster, triage and transport patients for medical care, respond to an influx of patients at the hospital and more.

The planned exercise will simulate response to an active shooter situation at Randolph County High School in Wedowee. The drill has been planned around a scheduled teacher workday, so students will not be on premises for the drill. Several residents have volunteered to stage as "victims" for the exercise.

Residents can expect to see a heavy presence of first responders at Randolph County High School beginning around 8 a.m. CT the day of the drill.

Drills like these are conducted periodically to ensure local agencies are prepared to respond to a disaster. Drills also identify areas that could be improved and obstacles that could become dangerous in an actual disaster.

Participating agencies last came together in May 2019 for a drill that simulated a tornado impact at Wedowee Middle School.

Partner agencies will meet following the exercise to discuss the experience and their findings, as well as to make plans to address any areas of concern that were discovered through the event.

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