Agencies including EMA to participate in exercise at superspeedway
by Shane Dunaway
TALLADEGA COUNTY — The Emergency Management Agency joins more than 20 agencies across Alabama participating in an upcoming strategic technology reserve exercise April 8-12 at Talladega Superspeedway.

“Talladega Superspeedway was chosen because it’s more of a central location in the state capable of accommodating all the agencies and resources needed to conduct the week-long exercise,” said Deborah Gaither, county EMA director.

In order to participate, Gaither requested and received approval from the Talladega County Commission Monday to seek a $5,000 grant, awarded by the Department of Homeland Security, to help cover supplies for the exercise, including water, meals, and audio and visual services.

The exercise, led by the Alabama Department of Homeland Security, provides a testing ground for gauging each agency’s communications equipment to determine efficiency and readiness.

“We’ll bring all our communications assets to a central location and test them out in the field,” said Chuck Murph, assistant director for the ADHS. “Our goal is to put all the equipment through varying scenarios to check for points of failure.”

The field testing portion of the exercise takes place April 9-10 and features approximately 30 participants.

Currently, 50 participants are scheduled for the tabletop exercise held April 11, but Murph said more people could potentially be added before the exercise begins.

The tabletop exercise simulates appropriate responses and procedures to events within the planned exercise. According to Murph, the exercise scenario will mirror the tornado outbreak that occurred April 27, 2011.

“We want to catch the minor mistakes ahead of time before they become problems in a actual crisis situation,” Murph said. “We’re going to find the mitigating factors by stressing these capabilities well past any point we would in a real-life scenario.”

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