Disaster Drill at Prattville Jr. High Gives Real World Training

On Friday, first responders and school staff turned Prattville Junior High School into a training ground to help prepare for a day they hope never comes.

The school conducts some type of mass casualty exercise every two years but this was the first scenario that involved fatalities from a natural disaster.
“We want our kids to be the safest kids in the state of Alabama,” said Tony Camara, Prattville High School Assistant Principal.
The scenario involved a collapsed wall in the gym due to a tornado. Teachers and students played the roles of injured or deceased victims.
“Nobody is really given any forward direction on what’s going to happen and how it is going to happen. Everybody is responding so this as close to real world as you can get,” said Camara.
Friday’s scene was similar to events that occurred on March 1, 2007 when an EF-4 tornado ripped through the city of Enterprise. The monster storm damaged Enterprise High School and caused walls to collapse. Eight students lost their lives that day.

“It felt very real and as the paramedics were telling me to calm down, I actually calmed down a little because I was nervous about how everyone would react and how everything would go,” said ninth grader Angelina Smith.

The drill was designed to benefit all entities involved from students and school staff to Autauga EMA and all Prattville first responders.

“It’s a great exercise. Even today, there were a few minor errors that we caught and corrected,” said Captain David Fowler with the Prattville Police Department.

Captain Fowler says even though minor errors were caught and corrected, the police department strives to be better and learn from each event. Their biggest challenge in this scenario would be controlling the influx of people arriving at the school after disaster strikes.

“Everybody’s parent wants to get up here. Our main mission is to get the kids to a location so the parents can pick them up and it’s not mass chaos when they are coming here,” Captain Fowler said.

“At the end of the day, it’s all of us working together and all of us working together for the betterment of the community,” said Camara.

Safety officers from every school in the system were on hand observing before school starts.

The first day of school for Autauga County public schools is Tuesday.

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