State workers prepare in case of emergency

By Sunni Blevins - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan - email

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - This time the fire and injuries were fake, but the message was very real. Everyone should be prepared to face a major emergency at home or in the workplace.

Today's training was held in the General Assembly building at the State Capitol.

The first step in this exercise was for participants to get in the proper gear, after that, things got serious. They had to deal with injured people, a search and rescue operation and even removing a collapsed wall off a co-worker.

From putting out a fire to helping someone who's been hurt -- these state employees are training in case of a real emergency.

A lot of people might have the mindset that something like this won't happen to them...but emergencies occur all around us -- and often make news headlines.

Some high profile situations we've covered recently include a fire at city hall -- an evacuation was necessary when an electrical issue led to a small explosion that sparked a two-alarm blaze in the basement.

We also covered the tragedy of a Henrico County worker who died after falling into what's described as a "vat of sludge" at the water reclamation facility.

This training helps in a situation like that too.

"We cover disaster psychology and that aspect," said Susan LoweCERT Training Coordinator. "What are you going to feel like if something like this happens in the workplace ."

And while the wounds aren't real this time -- they could be next time -- or it could be some other emergency.

"The likelihood that you may have a power surge and an explosion, or high winds or flooding...that's very likely -- and we are preparing the state employees to deal with this so they can recognize it when they come," Lowe said.

All this is geared toward one overall message.

"Emergency preparedness is everyone's responsibility," said Laura Southard, Virginia Department of Emergency Management spokesperson. "Everyone should have their family able to take care of themselves for 72 hours after a disaster strikes, once you do that, then think about reaching out to your community to see if you can help others.

Organizers and participants say one of the best aspects of this training is that while these skills are useful in the workplace -- they also transfer to being more prepared at home.

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