WVU-P disaster drill today at Jackson campus

RIPLEY – West Virginia University at Parkersburg will host its first disaster drill at its Jackson County Center today, officials said.

The drill will begin at 10 a.m. and will be the first one held at the Jackson County Center, 105 Academy Drive, Ripley, said Katie Wooten, director of marketing and communications at WVU-P.

The scenario being rehearsed at the Jackson County Center will simulate having an active shooter on campus, said Walter Smittle, Office of Emergency Management director for Jackson County. Officials will respond to the scenario as it unfolds, he said.

Residents nearby can expect to see emergency vehicles going to and from the Jackson County Center from 9 a.m. until noon or later, Smittle said.

“WVU-P specifically requested an active shooter situation due to the large amount of active shooters we unfortunately have in America today,” Smittle said.

Steps have been taken to prevent the public from panicking during the practice event, Smittle said. Local residents have been notified in advance, and a digital sign will be placed on Academy Drive to inform people at the nearby Wal-Mart to use caution and watch for emergency vehicles heading toward the college, Smittle said.

Calls about the scenario will be handled by the Jackson County 911 Center, Smittle said. The calls will be handled as if they are real, but each transmission will end with someone saying “This is an exercise” in order to keep panic from happening, he said.

Emergency vehicles responding to the college will not be using lights or sirens, Smittle said.

There will be no live ammunition used during the scenario, Smittle said. The shooting will be imitated, and emergency and law enforcement responding to the scene will react to the sounds and sights around them, Smittle said.

Victims have been arranged for the incident and will be the responsibility of fire, EMS and Jackson General Hospital to handle, Smittle said.

“We are actually allowing several organizations to piggyback off of this one event so that everyone can earn the appropriate credit needed for their annual certifications,” Smittle said.

The purpose of the scenario is to help Jackson County emergency response units to locate problems and holes in their responses so they can be identified and closed before a real emergency happens, Smittle said.

West Virginia State Police, Ravenswood Police Department, Ripley Police Department and Jackson County Sheriff’s Department will be participating in the drill, Wooten said.