LISBON - Columbiana County's Emergency Management Agency received a perfect score from federal officials grading the EMA's response to last week's simulated disaster at a nearby nuclear power plant.
"It's not rare but it doesn't happen all the time," Stephen Tulley said of the perfect score. Tulley, who is from the Chicago office of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, served as exercise director for the three-day drill.
Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Tulley delivered a preliminary assessment of the EMA's emergency response plan, and he reported federal observers determined all 13 of the major test criteria were met, as well as all 1,200 possible points of evaluation.
All counties within 10 miles of a nuclear power plant are required to have an emergency response plan, and the southern part of Columbiana County is within 10 miles of the nuclear power plant in Shippingport, Pa. The plan, used as a template for all of the EMA's emergency response plans, must be tested every two years.
This year's drill followed the same initial pattern as others, which involved a series of events at the nuclear plant, culminating in the accidental release of radioactivity into the air. Under the escalating scenario, the radioactive plume drifted into the East End of East Liverpool, triggering a number of differing responses by the EMA.
Other scenarios are interjected to test the plan and the participants' ability to cope with the changing situation. This year's scenario involved a simulated major traffic accident in East Liverpool's East End while emergency personnel were attempting to evacuate residents to an evacuation center opened at the Negley Fire Department. This was followed by a "fire" at the former Corral restaurant in Negley.
Other agencies involved in the drill were:
- The county chapter of the American Red Cross, which helped staff the evacuation center in Negley and the shelter opened at United Local High School where evacuees would have eventually been housed.
- The county health department, which staffed the evacuation center in Negley.
- West Point and Lisbon fire departments, which staffed the decontamination center at Beaver Local High School. This is where emergency workers who came in contact with radioactivity would have gone to be evaluated and treated.
- The East Liverpool school district, where the superintendent, principal and transporation director were part of the drill because of the need to evacuate school children from the East End.
- The county sheriff's office and Ohio Highway Patrol provided traffic control.
- East Liverpool City Hospital and the city health department.
-The county engineer's office and Ohio Department of Transportation.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Volunteer amateur radio operators.
- New Waterford firefighters assisted Negley, while firefighters from East Palestine and Hanover Township coordinated fire services response from the EMA's emergency operations center (EOC).
- Columbiana Emergency Medical Services were in charge of coordinating EMS responses from the EOC.
- County Educational Service Center and Crestview school district coordinated school services from the OEC.
EMA Director Darren Dodson was obviously pleased with the performance, noting the drill involved 250 to 300 volunteers.
"This is just a testament to the time and effort the volunteers put in to make this an overall success, because if it wasn't for them none of this would work," he said.
FEMA's Tulley commended all involved for "a job very well done ... You did this like you do it everyday of your life."