Tuesday, June 24, 2014
Local government agencies conducted an annual drill Thursday, testing officials' response to a terrorist bomb explosion.
The drill occurred in two locations: Mount Pleasant's Joe Gawrych Baseball Complex on Rifle Range Road and James Island's Youth Soccer fields. Volunteers dressed in torn clothes and soaked in red dye and water depicted injured spectators after a flashbang smoke bomb filled with “hydrophloric acid” went off at a mock bicycling event, prompting immediate response from officials.
“Injured” spectators scattered in panic. Three victims, one of which was a mannequin, were critically wounded by the explosion and treated on site. Others who were deemed “able to drive” by officers, drove themselves to East Cooper Medical Center to seek medical attention.
In an effort to acquire a merit badge, Boy Scout Troop 529 of St. Benedict's Church participated as spectators who summoned officers after the explosion. “This gives them experience they need if they're ever in an emergency situation,” said Assistant Scout Master Brendon Loiselle.
The drill is hosted every year to practice and evaluate responses by emergency officials and agencies. According to Cathy Hayes, chief of operations for the Emergency Management Department, these scenarios are better than “waiting until the heat of the battle to be prepared.” In the past, the simulated events were hurricances or earthquakes. After participants expressed the desire to conduct a terrorist-based scenerio, agencies agreed.
“We need to prepare for all hazards that we face,” Director of Charleston County Emergency Management Department Jason Patno said.
Representatives from local agencies will meet at Charleston County's Emergency Operations Center to conduct a “hot wash” in which they will analyze the events on video to determine changes that need to be made.
In the meantime, Patno advises citizens to speak up in regard to suspicious activity. “If you see something, say something,” Patno said.
Agencies involved included Mount Pleasant's Police and Fire Departments, City of Isle of Palms Police Department, STAT EMS Service, Roper St. Francis Hospital System, East Cooper Medical Center and the Medical University of South Carolina.