After Wacker incident, Bradley Co. officials organize emergency shelter-in-place drills

Image: NewsChannel 9 Skycam

Bradley County officials are organizing shelter in place drills at local schools as part of a plan to improve responses to emergency situations.

This after last month's explosion that sent a vapor cloud in the air at Wacker Chemie in Charleston.

Walker Valley High School, Bradley County Schools and Charleston Elementary will be part of the training and education, said Bradley County Emergency Management Director Troy Spence.

He says there were a lot of rumors and wrong information that was spread during the Wacker explosion.

"Everyone is not going to be happy, we know we did what we needed to do to protect the people," Spence said.

He is working to get more people to sign up for emergency text alerts. He says 35,000 people have signed up so far. You can do so by texting "CBCEME" to 888 777. If you live within a one mile radius of the chemical plants in Charleston, text "Charleston" to 888 777. If you have a home phone, you can call 423-728-7289 to sign up for voice notifications.

"The public notification system is there to protect the public, and it's there to make sure they're reassured that we as emergency responders are on top of what's going on and we are giving them the correct information."

There is a community advisory panel that meets in Charleston to talk about public safety concerns and answer questions.

"We are going to do the best we can to make sure that everyone is taken care of and everybody goes home unharmed."

Spence says they implemented a shelter in place order as a precaution last month.

"We will always err on the side of caution, over abundance of caution keeps people alive sometimes."

Spence says they're learning what they can from the explosion, and past events at other local chemical plants.

"When they talk to us they're extremely transparent, that's why my job is to make sure the public understands I'm telling you the truth and if it's a situation where I feel like they're not being transparent then we take more extreme measures."

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