Local health department to host disaster preparedness exercise

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AUXVASSE – The Callaway County Health Department is hoping to educate more community professionals with its fifth annual “Disaster Preparedness Exercise.”

The department is joined by its community partners such as the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and other Region F counties. 

Kent Wood, an Environmental Public Health Specialist at the department, said the event was created to make sure local professionals are prepared for the worst.

“We do this so in case of a disaster, each one of us can react,” he said. “We know what our roles are, and we know who we can depend on when we are in the field.”

During the event, a scenario will be provided. The scenario will be based on a disaster, and those in attendance must react as if the scenario were a real life disaster. Wood said this year’s scenario will be different.

“A lot of folks continuously do a weather-related, tornado incident,” he said. “Those are beneficial. But we need to be practicing on many different fronts.”

Pam Phelps, the director of the Callaway County Medical Reserve Corps, said disasters have a whole new meaning these days.

“The idea of emergencies, disasters and being prepared takes on a totally different picture anymore,” she said. “It’s not just tornadoes and ice storms.”

Phelps said communication among members is essential in times of crisis.

“Just knowing how each other works, how they think, the process itself, helps immensely,” she said.

Wood said he is excited for the exercise.

“I want to see the responses from these folks,” he said. “It’s going to be something we’ve never done before, and it’s going to be something different.”

Officials did not want to divulge the specific scenario ahead of the event. 

The exercise will take place at 9 a.m. Friday at the Callaway Youth Expo Center.