Tabletop disaster exercise planned

City officials, including representatives of the police and fire departments, will join with community organizations for an exercise Saturday aimed at preparing for a natural disaster.

Set from 9 a.m. to noon in council chambers at Salem City Hall, the training session is being sponsored by Columbiana County Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster.

CCVOAD Chairman Ginger Grilli explained the group is comprised of representatives of volunteer agencies who got together to address unmet needs after the 2004 floods which hit several communities in the county.

Member agencies include the American Red Cross, Catholic Charities, amateur radio operators, the Salvation Army and area church groups, such as Methodists. The local group is affiliated with the state VOAD and hosts seminars twice a year. Sometimes it’s a tabletop exercise or a presentation on a natural disaster, such as flood preparation.

“Our goal is to move around the county,” Grilli said.

This will be the first exercise done by the group in Salem. During the tabletop, there will be a scenario for a natural disaster in Salem that will last more than six days and participants will go through how they’ll respond.

During the exercise different problems will be thrown at them that come up during the disaster that they’ll need to handle.

Grilli said the city participates in exercises and drills for emergency response, but this is different because it includes the voluntary groups.

“This is a chance to practice,” she said.

She’s expecting at least 30 or more people to take part.