Muscogee County School District executes interagency safety exercise

Published: Mar. 22, 2022 at 5:50 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Muscogee County School District prepared for the worst Tuesday in a full-scale disaster preparedness exercise, bringing together several city and county agencies. This-- just as they would if a real disaster were to strike.

In this exercise, a tornado took a direct hit to the old Spencer High School. The training took one year to plan and execute.

“First responders and EMS teams helped us through a difficult day today,” Muscogee County Superintendent Dr. David Lewis said. “As you are aware, our community was impacted by tornados today, one of which struck the old Spencer High School, located on Victory Drive.”

Columbus Police Department, Columbus Fire and EMS, Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office and Muscogee County School District all joined forces Tuesday to train on how to respond if tragedy strikes.

The exercise simulated debris thrown against the school, with a partial collapse inside the building. The mission: Recover students trapped inside. In this case, first responders had to make their way through a vehicle and debris thrown against the school, then bore through concrete to recover 10 injured actors, playing students, inside the building.

“We can put it all down on paper, but when we actually go out there, give them scenarios, give them 911 calls...” Columbus EMA Director Chance Corbett explained. “We were throwing 911 calls, dispatchers were telling them people were calling saying they needed help. Parents were going ‘where are my kids?’ Practicing the entire plan is very important in being prepared.”

Right now, the Chattahoochee Valley is in the midst of tornado season. Corbett said with possible severe weather approaching Wednesday, this exercise is happening at the perfect time.

“Everything we preached today was safety, but the end result we’re looking for is to save lives and makes things as safe as possible for the community,” Corbett told us.

Following the retrieval of the 10 actors playing injured students, they went to Piedmont Regional Hospital to be treated.

The other actors playing students who were not injured went to Cascade Hills to unite with actors playing as guardians.

MCSD teams with first responders each year to practice simulated scenarios to ensure safety for all students, faculty and staff.

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