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Victims wait for help during a mock drill at the Limestone County Technical Center.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Victims wait for help during a mock drill at the Limestone County Technical Center.

Homeland spending snapshot
Grant required EMA to hold emergency drill

By Holly Hollman · 340-2445

ATHENS — Ever wonder how grants topping $100,000 protect us from terrorists and disasters?

The Athens-Limestone County Emergency Management Agency got a $100,000 homeland security grant that required the agency to do a mock emergency.

Then the state received additional federal homeland security funds from fiscal 2003 that other agencies never used. The state passed it on to counties like Limestone to fund a mock emergency. Limestone got $10,000.

Breakdown on spending

Here’s a breakdown of that $110,000, according to EMA spokeswoman Daphne Ellison:

$53,000 — Allocated for a mobile command post for EMA to use as needed during natural disasters such as tornadoes, an incident at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant or a hazardous spill from a train or truck.

$35,400 — Funded a reverse 911 call system. That system will call Limestone residents during a massive disaster or attack to tell them to evacuate or seek shelter.

$11,000 — Funded a radio system for Athens City Schools, so that school officials can communicate via radio with police and EMA.

$10,000 — Hired Lee Helms and Associates to conduct the Feb. 27 mock emergency at the Limestone Career Technical Center. The company created a scenario and provided supplies. In the scenario a state prison escapee hijacked an anhydrous ammonia truck, shot the driver, wrecked near the school causing an ammonia leak, ran into the school courtyard and shot students, then took the school hostage.

The EMA, Athens police and fire, Limestone sheriff, ambulance service, Athens-Limestone 911 Center, Huntsville hazmat and Athens-Limestone Hospital had to react as the scenario unfolded. Evaluators are writing their reports that denote each agency’s strengths and weaknesses. Agencies must create correction plans for the state on any weaknesses.

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