Pickens Co. Emergency Management plans practice drills for shoot - FOX Carolina 21

Pickens Co. Emergency Management plans practice drills for shootings involving mass casualties

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Emergency alert system. (6/26/17 FOX Carolina) Emergency alert system. (6/26/17 FOX Carolina)
PICKENS, SC (FOX Carolina) -

School shootings, night club shootings, even inside church walls – Pickens County Emergency Management said it seems like we've seen it all with mass casualties.

Now, emergency management is working with the Upstate Health Coalition, Upstate coroners, DHEC, doctors, nurses, and mental health professionals, all to prepare for what would happen if disasters or shootings hit the Upstate. 

"We want to be prepared, we don't want to scramble at the last minute," Denise Kwiatek, director of Pickens Co. Emergency Management said.  "We want to press a button, call in our people, set up a place, whether it be a school or church."

That place is called a family assistance center. A place that can accommodate mental health professionals, coroners, and will allow the victim's families to have privacy during the aftermath.

"How would we handle if a natural disaster, mass causality, mass fatality incident were to happen in our county. Where would we have the victim's families go?," Kwiatek asked. 

They're calling it the family assistance program. They have certified and trained health professionals to help victims, but now they said they are gearing up to create exercises that feel as realistic as possible.

Kwiatek said the county is working with a member of the FBI who has seen first hand the aftermath of mass causalities. She said it is important to listen to what worked and what didn't.

"The center is a one stop shop, they can come there to know what's going on," Pickens Co. Emergency Management Chief Deputy Pierce Womack said. 

The program focuses on helping the victims' families, some may not even be able to wrap their minds around the reality of the situation. 

Emergency management said for every victim, they plan to help 8 to 10 family members and need to be prepared for families who are out of state. They mention they will be setting up a call center and have behavioral and spiritual specialists on hand. 

"We will have actors be our victims and families," Kwiatek said. "When real world happens, we're ready to go."
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