Mock disaster drill to take place at Conyers AT&T facility Tuesday

CONYERS -- Salem Road will be the site of a disaster -- but just for practice.

AT&T Natural Disaster Recovery Special Operations Team members, along with personnel from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Rockdale Fire & Rescue Hazmat Team, will simulate a response to a real-life natural disaster in a portion of the AT&T facility, which is located at 2315 Salem Road in Conyers. The drill is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"AT&T's Special Operations Team is trained and equipped to respond to any chemical or natural disaster.This particular drill in Conyers on Tuesday will simulate the after-effects of a chemical fire, which released toxic gases into the air and surrounding area," said Ann Elsas, spokeswoman for AT&T Strategic Communications.

Elsas said the purpose of the drills is so the company's special operations team can be prepared to respond in the event of an actual emergency. In addition to the AT&T Special Operations Team, The EPA monitoring team will check for air quality as they would should hazardous materials be spilled in the environment and Rockdale Fire & Rescue will handle the decontamination portion of the drill.

"We need to be prepared for any emergency keep our team prepared and on their toes so when disaster strikes we can roll out immediately and are prepared with our equipment and the skills needed to repair the network and help as needed with other emergency teams on the ground," she said.

Elsas said the disaster drill will take place in a controlled portion of the AT&T facility. There should have no impact on traffic or surrounding businesses, although people may notice emergency responders' vehicles and sirens. The participants will be dressed in full Hazmat gear during the drill.

"They will be simulating work if a natural disaster took place, so this will be a real-life representation of the work they would do," Elsas said.

The company conducts these training exercises quarterly at different locations around the country. Tuesday's drill will be the first one at the Salem Road facility.

AT&T Special Operations Team members have helped with a number of disaster recovery efforts in areas affected by floods, ice storms, wildfires and tornadoes. Elsas said the company also sent a team to help with a recent coal mine explosion in West Virginia.