Smoke billowed from Campus Drive May 24 as the Asheville Fire Department began its three-day emergency training exercises at UNC Asheville. Even with the warm weather, firemen and women wore full body biohazard suits during parts of today’s training exercise. The reason? Training prevents mistakes in the field.
“I know it’s a challenge to dedicate half a day or two-thirds of a day to training missions sometimes,” said Barry Hendren, Asheville Fire Department’s Division Chief of training and safety. “We’ve all got that work that we need to be doing, but this is a really important part of what we do. If we don’t practice our skills, and practice our skills properly, we will make those mistakes that will be on CNN.”
The exercises will focus on hazardous materials scenarios including a mass-casualty scenario planned for Thursday, May 26. According to public information officer Kelley Webb, the exercises will be completed in three different shifts so that as many firefighters can participate without hindering the department. Each exercise begins at 8:30 a.m. and lasts until about 3 p.m. Consequently, Campus Drive and parking lots 3 and A will be closed during these times. So if you want to enter or leave campus, you will have to do it via the traffic circle at W.T. Weaver Boulevard.
According to a press release on UNCA’s website, various community emergency responders will be participating in the exercises including Asheville Police, Mission Hospital, Buncombe County Emergency Management, Buncombe County EMS, N.C. Emergency Management and A-B Tech. It also said people on campus may hear sirens and/or see emergency lights during the exercises.
Campus community members should direct any questions about the exercise to University Police at 828.251.6710 or firstname.lastname@example.org.