Exercise shows Augusta disaster-ready

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News 12 First at Five, May 8, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga -- Hurricane season starts in less than a month and already the predictions are out and the east coast is a prime target.

That's why a scenario practiced today at Augusta's Daniel Field is likely -- a category five storm hitting Savannah.

Local groups got together today to pretend that just happened because if it did, victims would come here.

"It teaches people what to expect if a real tragedy comes through." says Dr. Michael Friedman with Eisenhower Army Medical Center.

For the exercise to be a success, participants rely on volunteers ready to play the part of a victim realistically. That's where Augusta Tech student Tiffany Spencer is happy to help three years running, today playing a lost 10 year old boy. "As a child if they lost their mommy they're hurt, they're going to ask questions, they're going to want to know what's going on."

"We practice that now so when bad stuff happens, we can do it well," adds Brigadier General Donald Bradshaw with Eisenhower Army Medical Center.

Nearly 100 medics, soldiers, and volunteers are on hand at Daniel Field.

"This would be an area of chaos, we have lots of casualties arriving together," adds Dr. Friedman.

Once the disaster victims are stabilized at the staging area, they are then assessed and transported to local hospitals so the demonstration can continue.

"It allows us to practice that integration of all the hospitals in the area and the Red Cross. We know how to get organized," adds Brigadier General Bradshaw.

Organization in the midst of chaos and these experts say Augusta is ready just in case.

Dr. Friedman, "Actually this is my 10th year of doing this and I think we've got this down very well."

Today's event was organized by Fort Gordon as part of the annual National Disaster Medical System exercise.

A critique of the event is scheduled for next week so the organizers can decide what areas went well and what needs improvement.

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