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Regional Emergency Services To Conduct Hazardous-Materials Exercise Saturday Morning in Cove Creek

By Jesse Wood

Sept. 5, 2014. Don’t worry if you see a slew of emergency personnel or vehicles in Cove Creek on Saturday morning.

Emergency services with Avery, Carter, Johnson and Watauga, counties along the Tennessee-North Carolina border, are conducting a “full-scale … tabletop exercise to test the interoperable capabilities of emergency responders” in the Watauga Gorge this weekend.

The hazardous-materials exercise will take place at the Historic Cove Creek School, located at 207 Dale Adams Road. At least 100 personnel are expected to participate. The exercise starts at about 9 a.m. and will run through noon on Saturday, Sept. 6.

“It is not hard to imagine a tractor-trailer truck being involved in a wreck with a passenger van and the sudden release of hazardous materials into the Watauga River,” a description of the exercise reads.

“Systems we would like to exercise are agency alert and notification, interoperable communications, Incident Command, complex hazardous materials/fire response; mass casualty; multi operational period planning, State RRT and Hazardous materials response, law enforcement investigation of the accident and traffic control,” the description continues.

“Currently local fire departments, sheriff offices and emergency medical services work together across county and state lines with limited communications and access to additional resources that might be available to save lives and to stabilize an incident.  The duration of one of these events typically occur during one operational period and we want to see how this type of incident would evolve over a multi operational periods.”