City Agencies Hold Emergency Management Drill at Kent Place
Thursday I had the privilege of representing the media in the first of two drills.
A chorline spill at Kent Place School?
A campus lockdown with a shooter on the loose?
An evacuation of a four-black radius around the Norwood Avenue campus?
Well, it may not have been real but on June 16 representatives from Kent Place School the Summit Police Department, the Summit Fire Department, the Colonial Crossroads Chapter of the Red Cross, Overlook Medical Center and other emergency services agencies and city officials put on an emergency management drill to practice how to handle an emergency of this magnitude.
I was brought in to represent the media involvement and likely expose gaps in the Office of Emergency Management's communication plan during an emergency.
Battalion Chief Eric Evers "tipped me off" to the incident at Kent Place just before 11 a.m. Thursday and, just as I normally would, I put on my press pass, checked my camera battery and hopped in the car to head to the scene.
Unlike in a real emergency of this caliber, I drove onto campus without a problem and made my way to the command center where the drill was going on.
Officials simulated a press conference at which time I posed questions that I would ask if this was a real emergency.
Has the suspect been identified?
Is anyone injured?
What are the dangers of a chlorine spill?
Was Kent Place targeted?
In the end, it was just a simulation. But this drill was just the first step leading to a larger-scale, full-blown drill on Oct. 7.
While I may not have been privy to the lessons learned and experienced gained during all parts of the drill, I think I helped give the participants a realistic idea of the tough questions I would ask on behalf of the citizens of Summit. In a situation like the one simulated during the drill, the main priority for all involved, including those of at Patch, would be to help communicate information to the residents about how to get to safety and what is going on.
James Palmieri, director of strategic initiatives, said it was a mutual decision to have the drill at Kent Place because of the vastness of the campus and its location in town.
"Everyone in Summit has been amazing," said Susan Bosland, head of Kent Place School. "We're lucky to live in Summit."
While no one wishes an emergency situation like the one demonstrated today would really happen, it's nice to know our first responders are making sure they are prepared if, God forbid, something like that ever did really happen here in the Hill City.