RICHMOND, Virginia, March 28, 2016 —
The peace and serenity of a warm, clear sunny March day on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia, was shattered, in an instant, when a tornado warning blared over the installation’s Giant Voice speaker system.
Defense Logistics Agency Installation Support at Richmond’s Police, Fire and Emergency Services immediately sprang into action. Shuttle buses were dispatched to evacuate employees from the Southern Administrative Complex trailers to the Center Restaurant. Employees in other buildings across the compound took appropriate actions to make it to a safe place as designated in the DSCR Employee Emergency Action Guide.
Roughly 30 minutes after the initial warning, it was all over. “It’s difficult to show them that it’s going to be bad weather, that it’s going to be pouring down raining, that it’s going to be high winds,” said Donald Rogers, fire chief, DLA Installation Support at Richmond.
The warning over the speaker system and evacuation of employees were all part of a simulated tornado warning that played out at DSCR the morning of March 22 as part of the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and the National Weather Service annual Statewide Tornado exercise. Participants included DLA Aviation, DSCR tenant activities and DLA Installation Support at Richmond. DSCR personnel participated in this exercise by initiating installation emergency plans and procedures.
We have seen the death and destruction caused by tornadoes right here in Virginia. Back in February a twister struck, killing three in Waverly, another in Appomattox County, and injuring multiple people in Tappahannock.
According to the National Weather Service, tornadoes may be the most dangerous element of severe weather during the spring and summer months.
“If you’re not prepared and you don’t practice, when the real thing happens, you won’t be ready then either,” said Rogers.
He said the goals of the tornado drill are to:
• Evaluate employee preparedness and response,
• Evaluate mass warning procedures,
• Validate response resources, and
• Ensure accountability.
“The employees are looking to the supervisors and asking “what am I supposed to do, where am I supposed to go,” said Rogers. “If the supervisors don’t know and the fire warden and the safety monitor don’t know, then we have a problem.”
While there are things Rogers said he saw during the drill that could use some fine tuning, which will be addressed during the After Action Review, overall he was happy with the way the drill executed.
“We do see some areas that could use improvement, like we always do,” he said. “That’s a great thing. Now we can go back and come up with our plan of action.”