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UNCP readies for ‘live’ emergency drill on March 11

February 22, 2010

In preparation for a “live” drill on March 11, UNC Pembroke conducted a train derailment exercise on a “table top” on February 17.

train derailmentThe four-hour simulated disaster scenario brought together represen-tatives from University, police, fire, rescue and hazardous materials agencies (hazmat), who would respond to an actual emergency.

The table-top exercise was led by a five-man crew from EnviroSafe, emergency planning consultants to all 16 UNC universities. Representatives from CSX, North Carolina Emergency Management and regional hazmat agencies were also present.

The March 11 scenario will begin at 8 a.m. at the railroad tracks on the south end of campus. The drill will include a simulated chemical spill. University and Pembroke communities should be alert to the activities of police and emergency responders.

“I was very impressed by the way things went today,” said Robeson County’s Director of Emergency Management Charles Britt. “It’s good to get everybody together to better understand how they will carry out their tasks in a real emergency.”

Simulations like the one on February 17 and the live drill on March 11 are critical planning steps, said Dr. Glen Burnette, vice chancellor for University and Community Relations.

A year ago, UNCP ran a live exercise for an “active shooter” on campus, he said

“Our division manages University Police, and we write emergency plans,” Dr. Burnette said. “So, events like this are an important test of our training and planning.”

Kevin Dull directed the exercise for EnviroSafe, which is headquartered in Graham, N.C.

“If you are not prepared for an incident like we talked about today, it can be devastating,” Dull said during the “hot wash” at the conclusion of the exercise. “If you don’t manage an emergency, it will manage you.

“With all the hazardous materials that pass through this campus on rail cars, it is a huge challenge,” he said. “This is an appropriate exercise for any university with railroad tracks on its campus.”

The table-top exercise ran through four steps of an actual emergency in a Homeland Security approved format.

The consultants led four groups – public information, executive leadership, administrative offices and emergency responders. They ticked off checklists and peppered each group with questions probing for weaknesses.

From setting up an “incident command post” to emergency alerts to the recovery aftermath, the consultants reviewed and advised at each step.

Besides conducting training, UNCP recently installed several layers of equipment and technology to alert its students, faculty and staff in the event of an emergency. Sirens with audio messaging and cell phone text messaging are just two of the  new programs.

“Every organization has room for improvement,” Dull said. “We strive continuously for that improvement.”

The next step in emergency planning the consultant noted is the March 11 and is a full-scale exercise with “boots and the ground.”

Represented at the February 17 drill were top UNCP administrators including Chancellor Charles Jenkins. Campus Police, Pembroke Police and Fire, Pembroke Volunteer Fire Department, Robeson County Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services, railroad and regional and state hazmat and emergency management officials were represented.

For questions about the March 11 live drill, please contact the Division for University and Community Relations at 910.521.6249 or email