COVINGTON -- Disaster will be visiting the area on Tuesday -- a mock disaster, that is -- and organizers of the training event, which will include first responders from Newton, Walton and Morgan counties, want residents to be aware of what's going on and potential traffic delays and detours.
"Basically we just want the citizens to know that roads will be closed for approximately five hours and if they see a bunch of emergency vehicles, there's no reason to be concerned," said Crystal Paulk-Buchanan, Public Affairs Officer for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.
Emergency Management Agencies from all three counties, as well as the GEMA, will be training via a simulated multi-vehicle accident scene that will include a transport tractor trailer and a school bus. Participants will include about 50 mock victims, many of them drama students from Eastside High School, who will act the parts of injured victims.
Residents should be alert for increased traffic and road closings. The exercise will be located on U.S. Highway 278, between Interstate 20 and Old Social Circle Road, according to Deputy Director of Covington-Newton County Emergency Management Agency Jody Nolan.
Beginning at 7 a.m., the Georgia Department of Transportation will close U.S. Highway 278 at the following checkpoints:
-- U.S. Highway 278 at I-20;
-- U.S. Highway 278 at Country Walk subdivision;
-- U.S. Highway 278 at Old Social Circle Road.
The exercise is set to continue 2 p.m. or until all personnel and equipment leaves the exercise area.
"Morgan, Newton and Walton County Emergency Management Agencies recognize their responsibility to protect the public from, and mitigate the consequences of, potential hazardous waste through the I-20 corridor," Nolan said. "This responsibility includes the necessity for a properly integrated response plan and the county EMAs have determined the need to conduct this exercise to test these protocols."
The planning for the exercise has been in process for several months and will include about 150 first responders and representatives from other local, state and federal agencies. Staging for the massive event will occur at Stanton Springs, an undeveloped multi-use park owned by Newton, Jasper, Morgan and Walton counties.