Tennessee’s First PrepareAthon! Mobilizes More Than 1,000 Residents and Businesses
Located in Rutherford County, Smyrna recently became the first town in Tennessee to join the millions of participants in registered activities in collaboration with America’s PrepareAthon!SM
In partnership with the City of Smyrna, GA—the first community to join America’s PrepareAthon! after the campaign launched in September 2013—the Town of Smyrna, TN, formed a planning committee of key stakeholders, including the city administrator, fire and police chiefs, Tristar StoneCrest Medical Center’s emergency preparedness coordinator, the Rutherford County Emergency Management Agency director, the Rutherford County American Red Cross, and the Rutherford County School District’s Emergency Preparedness Office. The planning committee encouraged participation from businesses, schools, and hospitals, and also hosted a preparedness expo that attracted more than 1,000 people.
“We felt it would be beneficial to speak to the commercial businesses, residents, and schools to see who was ready for a disaster,” said Bill Culbertson, fire chief of the Smyrna Fire Department.
Employees of The Home Depot in Smyrna, TN sheltered in place during the tornado drill on March 19.
At a Kroger grocery store in Smyrna, TN, employees wait in their designated safe area during the tornado drill.
Achieving Success Through Communitywide Participation
With the support of large businesses, including The Home DepotTM and the local Kroger® grocery store, as well as many small businesses and residents, the town conducted a tornado drill on March 19 and 20, 2015. During the drill, participants practiced finding a safe location to shelter in place. Key community stakeholders that participated in the drill included the TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center, all the town’s schools, and the Town of Smyrna Judicial Building, and afterwards, the planning committee held a press conference highlighting the town’s success.
Students at Cedar Grove Elementary participated in Smyrna’s tornado drill on March 20.
Schools: “It’s amazing to see what the students and teachers of Smyrna Elementary have done to be more prepared,” said Mary Esther Reed, mayor of Smyrna. “I’m glad that our schools are preparing and keeping our children and their families safe.”
Healthcare System: In support of Smyrna’s PrepareAthon!, TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center conducted a full-scale exercise simulating a tornado event and its impact on the community. The exercise included a tornado watch notification to all hospital employees announcing that students and staff had numerous injuries at a local school impacted by a tornado. The hospital’s chief executive and administrator convened response team leaders to discuss roles and responsibilities, procedures, and emergency response; notified existing hospital patients that they would be relocated to interior rooms or the basement for safety; and provided active triage for students with mock injuries.
“TriStar StoneCrest was very excited to take part in this collaborative event that prepared the community for a real disaster,” said CEO Lou Caputo. “In the event of a real tornado, we all have to work together as a team. The PrepareAthon! built invaluable relationships, illustrated our weaknesses and strengths, and prepared us to make a greater difference for our community in the event of a real disaster.”
Vendors at the Family Safety & Preparedness Expo provided information and supplies to help with tornado and emergency preparedness.
Uniting Residents and Stakeholders to Prepare for Tornadoes
The town also hosted its first Family Safety & Preparedness Expo at the Smyrna Town Centre on March 21, 2015. The expo featured more than 30 community organizations, including Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office, Health Department, and Emergency Management Agency; the Smyrna Police and Fire Department; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and many others. Participating vendors provided information, seminars, and demonstrations on tornado and emergency preparedness.
Local officials gave credit to the PrepareAthon! for bringing residents and stakeholders together to participate in the most organized event to promote tornado preparedness in the city’s history.
“PrepareAthon! is important because it involves businesses in preparing for potential hazards and practicing what to do,” said Tharrel Kast, director of the Rutherford County Emergency Management Agency. “Every year, you need to have something like PrepareAthon! that makes you stop, take a look at what you’re doing, and try to improve your plan so we can all survive. That’s the bottom line.”