Fort McClellan, AL (November 7, 2013) – In the event of a terrorist attack or large-scale disaster, the U.S. military calls for support. The Salvation Army, with a mission to care for those in need, is one of the responders. Salvation Army emergency disaster services teams from Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi are participating in a military drill that began Wednesday and will conclude Friday, designed to support soldiers in emergency situations.
The teams served all day Wednesday and Thursday, at Fort McClellan, responding to a request from the 4th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civilian Support Team in a mock exercise that involves finding, identifying and eliminating a radiological or biological hazard.
Thad Hicks, director of emergency disaster services for The Salvation Army’s Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Division, said the organization would be called upon during a major event. “This gives us an idea of how we fit into the overall plan,” he said. “Not only will we be supplying water, coffee, snacks and support, we will be practicing our response as well.” Hicks said the WMD exercise usually is held once a year in Georgia. This year, teams from Anniston and Gadsden also have been activated. “This is a chance to exercise our response efforts, as well as let the military know what we bring to the table,” Hicks said. “Practice makes perfect. We learn by doing, and the emergency disaster work of the Salvation Army is no different. Every time we exercise, we learn new lessons that we can apply the next time we go out on a real event.” Hicks said the Salvation Army participates in exercises like this as often as possible. “We have shown that we are willing to go the extra mile to see that those we serve are served well,” he said.
Maj. Jim Smith, director of emergency disaster services for The Salvation Army Georgia Division, is in charge of the event. In a real event, the Salvation Army would support first responders, survivors and volunteers, Smith said. He expects 325 military personnel to be involved in the training exercise.
The Georgia Division became involved with the 4th WMD-CST out of Dobbins Air Force Base and has conducted exercises with the team a few times in the last year. Smith said the team has ultra-sophisticated equipment that can detect hazardous materials in stadiums, urban areas and large assemblies of people, such as concerts, political rallies and the like. “Seeing and understanding the huge task and effort involved helps us plan and prepare for the real event,” Smith said reiterating the Salvation Army’s mission to serve those hurting and suffering. “We must understand the purpose and how we accomplish our goal,” he said.
November 07, 2013 – 10:41 PM ESTLaRecca Ruckerlarecca_rucker@uss.salvationarmy.org