Hurricane City drills for disaster; STGnews Videocast

Chief Lynn Excell, bottom right, goes through the five point of distribution steps, Hurricane, Utah, July 31, 2014 | Photo by T.S. Romney St. George News

HURRICANE – Thursday, Hurricane City conducted a “point of distribution” drill to prepare for future natural disasters or other emergency situations that would necessitate dispensing medication to community members. The city drill was organized in response to a countywide drill held earlier this month with the purpose of exploring what worked and what could work better.

On July 15, the Southwest Utah Public Health Department held a point of distribution drill for all local agencies. The process was designed for disaster preparedness. The health department’s disaster scenario was a staged response to a fictional biological attack in Las Vegas, which created an outbreak that spread to the St. George area.

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Videocast by Samantha Tommer, St. George News

After the July 15 drill, Hurricane City Police Chief Lynn Excell informed the Hurricane City Council that Hurricane City would be holding its own drill, to see what elements of the process worked and what could be done better.

“It’s important that we as a city are prepared in the event of a disaster,” Excell told the council. “I believe by running this drill it will show us how we can better serve our community.”

Accordingly, Excell ran the smaller-scale drill Thursday at Hurricane Valley Fire Department’s fire station 2, which was one of the first to go through the five-stage point of distribution process.

“The five stages are triage, education, registration, screening and dispensing of the medication,” Paulette Valentine, Southwest Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response, said.

Valentine added how grateful she was to Hurricane City for all they are doing to practice and train.

Hurricane City used Life Savers candy as the mock medication being distributed during the drill. One by one, employees went through the five stages as if an actual emergency had taken place.

As the employees moved through the stages, some began noticing small changes they felt could make the process easier and more efficient for people in the event of an actual emergency.

“When you say ’emergency preparedness,’ people think it’s nonevents,” Hurricane Mayor John Bramall said. “If you are prepared, then they are nonevents because we have the preparedness programs in place.”

Bramall added that Hurricane takes pride in its preparedness efforts for major events, so the community can be better served if something were to happen.

“That’s why we exercise this drill,” Hurricane Police Sgt. Brandon Buell said, “so whatever we are not prepared for, we can see what those are now, so we can be prepared for if it really does happen.”

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