Wednesday morning at SCI Somerset, multiple agencies practiced what they would do in a ‘real life’ emergency situation.
“It’s really good for our staff to see this. It’s good for us to practice this ourselves.”
That’s what SCI Somerset Superintendent Eric Tice told us at the full-scale training exercise.
Two staff members played the role of two inmates who escaped from the prison walls and ran into the nearby woods.
After a few hours of lockdown, the emergency officials resolved the ‘pretend’ situation, bringing both staff members into ‘pretend’ custody.
“Nobody escapes from our facilities. That’s our paramount responsibility as members of the community, and we take that very seriously. This today was a really good opportunity to not only measure and gauge our ability to do that but put into practice what we say we can do”
Tice says this was SCI Somerset’s first in-person emergency drill since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“It’s the first time we were able to really get our emergency plans out and dust them off since COVID. It’s been a couple years for us that we’ve been able to partner with our first responders in the community, our own special teams, and neighboring institutions, and really test our abilities to respond to an emergency situation,”
Among those who responded: the Pennsylvania State Police and Game Commission, both state and county Emergency Management Agencies, along with SCI Somerset and SCI Laurel Highlands Emergency Response Teams.
“We like to do this periodically so we meet each other before a live incident so that we’re not exchanging business cards or contact information at an actual incident.”
“Exercising plans is vitally important. Having plans on paper is one thing, but actually putting together an exercise and pulling in all of those partners to do it is critical for the best outcome of an incident,”
These state, county, and local officials say it’s ‘just in case’ that nightmare would turn into a reality.
“We don’t always get to play together. So, today was an opportunity for us to practice our communication, make sure that we all are in sync with not only our response plans but our mitigation efforts to ensure that this doesn’t happen in the future, and that we’re really prepared for literally any situation that can be presented to us,”