Disasters can come in many different forms. This is why emergency management officials are keeping local responders on their toes. Rupert Lacy, the Emergency Manager for Harrison County, says, "They have been briefed. We sent them into the field. They had to set up in an operational environment in the field." The Harrison County E.O.C. was busy with first responders and disaster workers not long after a report of a bomb explosion in Jackson County. Fortunately, it was not a real bomb situation. It was only a test, a test that required these disaster workers to reach out to state agencies like M.E.M.A. for help.
Caroline Nelson, the M.E.M.A. Air Coordinator, says, "I am merely here for support. I help them with any logistics they may need. They have had a bomb to explode in a bus, so we are here to help them do some support with that." The imaginary bomb left behind hazardous material, a threat to those in the area and the emergency workers trying to contain it. Back at the base of operations, police, fire, and medical workers constantly collected data gathered input from observations and made what could have been life and death decisions. Pat Sullivan, Harrison County Fire Marshal, says, "So whatever is in the hot zone is contaminated and has to be dealt with, but everything that’s outside the hot zone, we want to make sure they don't get in there and put themselves in the position we’ve evidently put ourselves in by being contaminated."
Officials with Harrison County E.O.C. say that even though the situation Monday was for practice, the lessons learned from the event will be invaluable in a future crisis. Lacy also says, "It's not a pass fail. It's a learning exercise to go outside your, you know we don't want them to get too in detailed, but we want them to look at the big picture." In reality, these situations could be much more tragic with real lives on the line. Examiners with the state will critique how the situation was handled so the county will know what improvements are needed.