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Emergency Officials Strengthen their Mass Fatality Drills

"In any type of incident I'm sure anyone from West Virginia or in other counties here anyone in D.C. or Virginia would be willing to reach out to local jurisdictions," said Denise Lyles, a D.C. Medical Examiner.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, W.Va. - A year ago super storm Sandy devastated the country, then an unimaginable shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and then another at the Washington D.C. Navy Yard. 

Now Jefferson County Emergency Services have been strengthening their mass fatalities management to always be prepared.

The D.C. Navy Yard mass shooting that occurred a couple of months ago killing 12 people, left an indelible mark on Jefferson County Emergency Services officials. They even admit if a similar situation were to occur in Jefferson County, they do not have the resources to handle it.

"We don't have the revenue stream that they do have inside the beltway to be properly prepared for a mass fatality incident,” said Ed Hannon of Jefferson County Emergency Services. "We are working with homeland security and other agencies to try best prepare for that event if it were in Jefferson County." 
 
So that's why the Jefferson County Planning Committee hosted a Mass Fatalities conference where emergency services officials from the four-state area, including Washington D.C., gathered. The group networked and asked for additional help if a mass fatality were to happen; anything from a shooting, to a major storm that could result in many deaths.  

"If something like that were to happen about a year ago that kind of caught us off guard we mobilize the emergency communications center," said Hannon.

While it was an information gathering event, it allowed all the local emergency services officials to speak with each other, and letting them know that they are there to help when an emergency occurs in their area.

"In any type of incident I'm sure anyone from West Virginia or in other counties here anyone in D.C. or Virginia would be willing to reach out to local jurisdictions," said Denise Lyles, a D.C. Medical Examiner.

"We are challenged, basically everyday with securing or having enough resources available," said Kevin Lewis of Washington County Emergency Services. "We have to look at collaborative challenges in order to bring resources together across the region."

The two day conference was attended by more than 100 emergency services officials.

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