Residents who notice an increased first responder presence on Sept. 20 should not be alarmed. This is not an emergency, but rather an annual exercise held by the Madison County Emergency Management Agency and Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program (EMA/CSEPP) to “improve emergency response readiness capabilities,” according to a department release.

Exercise planners will create a mock scenario at the Blue Grass Army Depot, for a drill that extends to ten Kentucky counties.

The exercise will take place between 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a start time unknown for a realistic “cold start,” said Kelley McBride, Public Information Officer for Madison County EMA/CSEPP.

Participants will include first responders, emergency agencies and other organizations. McBride said each year the county is evaluated for their response.

The public should not be alarmed when the exercise test alarms sound and indoor Advisor Alert Radios are activated.

For the first time, the exercise will include a test of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) on cell phones in and entering the county.

According to the department’s release the message will read, “Co. wide exercise today. Sirens sounding and other public safety activity. Madison Co. EMA.”

Schools will practice sheltering in place, while hospitals also rehearse emergency operations and decontamination. Baptist Health will practice the day before the exercise, while Saint Joseph Berea will participant the day of, according to McBride.

Community members will lend a hand by playing the role of disaster victims to give first responders and medical crews a chance to work through appropriate steps with real people.

The fire department will hold additional decontamination exercises in the parking lot of First Baptist Church on the Bypass, while law enforcement assists with security and rehearse traffic control points, McBride said.

The public information officer reinforced that the likelihood of an accident at the Bluegrass Army Depot is low, but that emergency officials practice so they can be ready and provide the best service should a time of need arise.

“We would respond just as we practice,” McBride said, which she advises community members do as well by taking time to prepare their own emergency plan. Each home should have an emergency preparedness kit consisting of scissors, plastic sheeting and duct tape, along with enough supplies to last 72 hours. Plastic sheeting should be pre-cut to cover windows, doors, vents and outlets of a selected room where one could shelter in place until further instruction.

For more information visit MadisonCountyky.us/ema.

Reach Critley King at 624-6623; follow her on Twitter @critleyking.

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