A few notes from this morning’s emergency preparedness drill at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. …
Todd DeMuth, from the office of preparedness with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said the drill was the first of its kind in Mississippi and to his knowledge the first of its kind in the Southeast.
Frankly, I don’t know why this doesn’t happen more. I’ve been a part of a stadium and arena when there’s been a need to seek shelter for weather. Moving a large number of people is never easy, particularly when you’re dealing with responders from three groups who don’t often work together. Today’s drill combined the efforts of university, city and county officials.
“It’s very important especially to get everybody together. If an incident happens we have to have a unified command and make sure we’re all working together,” said Joe Swingle, associate AD for facilities and game operations. “One thing that really went well was that everybody came and worked together. Items to improve are just little things here and there. None of them were anything major.”
The drill was set around the idea of an explosion under the stands in the north end zone. It was ultimately traced to a propane tank.
“We could have used a terrorist event of some sort to make it more realistic. We were testing response from the local agencies today and saw no need to get federal involved,” DeMuth said.
The game’s fictitious opponent was LSU.
The event included roughly 60 “actors,” some of them covered with blood, at least that many responders and more volunteers. A mock press conference was conducted and several of the actors were transported to Baptist Hospital.
When it was finished DeMuth gathered participants in the north end zone stands and told him the highs and lows of his observations. He said there were things for the groups to improve on but that nothing he saw was “overwhelming.”