Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2012, 7:26 pm

Mercer County plans mass casualty drill

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By Stephen Elliott, selliott@qconline.com

Mercer County officials are holding a mass casualty drill at 6 p.m. Thursday in Aledo.

The drill will bring a countywide response and have volunteer victims and moving vehicles.

It's the first live drill of its kind in the county, according to Sheriff Tom Thompson. The nature of the disaster will not be divulged to the participating agencies until they arrive on the scene.

"We've never done one before," the sheriff said. "We'll have critiques and go over things and see what we could have done here to improve on it.

"I'm guessing communication would be one of the major problems because you have multiple agencies. Just those kind of things. I think this will be beneficial."

Jennifer Hamerlinck, director of the Mercer County Emergency Management Agency, and Julie VanMelkebeke, emergency preparedness coordinator for the health department, have done the primary work in setting up the drill.

Ms. Hamerlinck said participants will include law enforcement, emergency management, public health, hopsital, public works and local officials, along with the American Red Cross, the coroner's office and possibly more.

Ms. Hamerlinck said the drill took six months to prepare.

"This will give us some insight if something actually happened and how well we can work together with other agencies involved," Sheriff Thompson said.