Jasper Police Chief Connie Cooner Rowe said the Alabama Department of Homeland Security is sponsoring a simulated disaster experience Wednesday in an effort to have first reponders as prepared as possible should an actual disaster take place.
The event will begin at 8 a.m. and continue throughout the day, possibly as late at 5 p.m., Rowe said. The training will include a simulated hazardous material spill and jail riot. Disaster response teams from across northwest Alabama will participate.
“There will be 20 teams involved in the drill from as far away as Athens and Decatur,” Rowe said. “There could be as many as 500 or so emergency management people with many of those staying overnight in hotels. I think this will be a good thing for our city.”
Several roads in dowtown Jasper will be closed due to the simulation. 17th Street between 2nd Avenue and Alabama Avenue, 1st Avenue between 14th Street and 17th Street, 14th Street at Alabama Avenue and 15th Steet at Alabama Avenue will all be closed.
“We tried to place this as far away from traffic as we could get it,” Rowe said. “Alabama Avenue will be open. The simulated spill will be staged in the area of Maddox Middle School, while the jail riot simulation will take place in our former jail facility.”
While the public cannot be inside the area of the simulation, Rowe said citizens are welcome to watch from other areas.
“The lower parking lot at First Bank of Jasper might be an interesting place to be that day or the area behind the Walker County Board of Education,” she said.
Rowe said the Jasper Police Department will canvass the area around the simulation site to inform residents about the event.
“We want to let people know this will be taking place,” she said. “There we be a lot of emergency workers in the area and do not want the public to be alarmed.”