BOCES students participate in Oswego County Radiological Emergency Preparedness Drill

Career and Technical Education students enrolled in the Public Safety and Justice Program at Oswego County BOCES are training to be our nation’s next generation of first responders.

Oswego County BOCES Public Safety and Justice student Jonathan Przepiora from the Hannibal School District receives assistance from Rural Metro EMTs during the Reception Center Drill coordinated by the Oswego County Emergency Management Office. Przepiora was asked to act as though he was suffering from chest pains during the drill to exercise the reception center’s ability to respond to extenuating circumstances.

They are preparing for professional careers in law enforcement, emergency management, security and firefighting and were given a unique opportunity to participate in an emergency preparedness drill with the Oswego County Emergency Management Office.

Approximately 60 students were transported by bus to the county’s designated emergency reception center at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse for the drill. There, they were screened and processed for re-unification with family members.

In order to adequately test procedures, students were treated as members of the general public and asked to role play a variety of possible evacuee scenarios including contamination, suffering from chest pains, unable to understand or speak English, incapacitated, homeless, and more.

Bethany Rookey, Oswego City School District, was processed through the ‘decon’ area of the Reception Center and is pictured above getting a ‘clean’ stamp to indicate she is free of radioactive material. The Oswego County BOCES students’ participation in the Reception Center Drill enabled the Oswego County Emergency Management Office to gauge processing time and evaluate where strengths and weaknesses were within their Radiological Emergency Preparedness Plan.

The students and their participation enabled the county to gauge processing time and evaluate where strengths and weaknesses were within their Radiological Emergency Preparedness Plan.

Additionally, the drill provided OCB with an opportunity to exercise components of the organization’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP). In the event of a radiological release during the school day and subsequent recommendation by county and/or state officials to distribute Potassium Iodide (KI) to prevent the radioiodine uptake by the thyroid, the CEMP calls for OCB to institute a shelter-in-place, distribute KI packets to classrooms and offices and communicate with officials to determine if an evacuation is deemed necessary.

Through the drill OCB was able to test the coordination of communication with county officials; onsite incident management; and the ability to manage a successful evacuation to the designated reception center. At the reception center, OCB officials were able to establish a reunification center to test the procedure for students/parent reunification.