Wednesday morning, first responders with the Somerset County Department of Emergency Services practiced what they’d do in a real life emergency weather situation.
“It’s a blue sky day where we can meet each other and it’s not a real scenario so we’re not exchanging business cards or names when a real event occurs.”
That’s what Joel Landis, the Director of Emergency Services for Somerset County, said about the biannual simulation.
He said they hold an ’emergency weather simulation’ every fall and spring, but that this is the first in-person simulation since the pandemic began.
“We want to take those scenarios and exercise all of our capabilities, and our personnel, to make sure that they’re able to properly respond to those,” Landis continued.
Wednesday’s exercise: a tornado simulation.
First responders rehearsed how they’d alert the public, where shelters could be set up, and how schools should respond if it were to happen.
“We’ve worked with all the hazard vulnerabilities for our county. Flooding events, tornadoes, and winter storms have all been previously exercised,” Landis told 6 News.
The county’s Emergency Operation Center would be opened in the case of a train derailment, multiple vehicle accident, or other big emergency.
County officials and outside agencies could meet there if needed.
“We do this to be better prepared. We want to make sure that, number one, our department is prepared for any scenario that could occur to us,” Landis said.
These officials remind the residents of Somerset County to sign up for the CodeRED Emergency Alert System.
As they practice running to the situations that we run away from.
“We take a period aside just to make sure that this function is best exercised, and we’re best prepared for if that day ever does occur,”