B-UMS, first responders prep for mock emergency drill March 20

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TENNERTON – Attention: This is only a drill.

Upshur County Schools and emergency responders will be participating a training event Wednesday, March 20, at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Jodie Akers, director of student services, said, “With last year’s exercise at Buckhannon Academy Elementary being a huge success, we look forward to again partnering with our excellent emergency responders on this event at the Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School.”

The training will take the form of a full-scale mock disaster exercise. As part of the event, school and emergency personnel will respond to a simulated situation as if it were real.

Akers said preparing for these situations in advance can reduce stress when an emergency actually occurs.

“We recognize that practicing emergency response procedures can reduce anxiety and safety risks,” Akers said. “These activities build our staff confidence in knowing what to do in an emergency. We want to make our drills and training thoughtful and routine for our staff.”

Superintendent of Upshur County Schools Dr. Sara Stankus said families trust that their children will be safe at school in Upshur County.

“Each day in our schools, families entrust our Upshur County schools to provide safe and healthy learning environments for approximately 4,000 students,” Stankus said. “Our Upshur County families and communities expect that schools will keep children safe.”

Stankus said being ready for an everyday emergency can help prepare for something more catastrophic.

“There is a fundamental link between day-to-day emergency readiness and how we well we are prepared for larger-scale emergencies,” Stankus said. “Schools that are well-prepared for an individual emergency involving a student or staff member are more likely to be prepared for complex events.”

Stankus said she hopes no one ever has to utilize the training.

“I hope we are never required to use the valuable knowledge we will learn in this practice, yet we understand the importance of such training,” Stankus said. “Whether for an emergency or disaster, preparedness and practice is important to assure we are ready with an effective response that will keep our staff and students safe.”

Organizers would like the community to be aware of the event because residents will see lots of participants, observers, actors and emergency vehicles in the area, and it may be difficult to get through the area during the event. Jeff Harvey, owner and Preparedness Division manager of JH Consulting, said there may be emergency vehicles at the middle school.

“In order to adequately test all elements of this response, we may have emergency vehicles on roadways and parked in the area around Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School,” Harvey said. “We will keep these disruptions to a minimum.”