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      Agencies training in case of attack close to home

      WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) -- Saving lives was the message for more than 150 people Wednesday.

      Local, state, and federal agencies met at Columbia International Airport's Aeronautics Commission hangar to hold the National Disaster Medical System's annual mock drill.

      "It is beneficial to all the partners," NDMS Exercise Supervisor Jeff Straub said. "The worst time to need somebody is during a disaster. Having those relationships prior to the event makes this a more cohesive, seamless effort."

      The drill was based on a fake attack during a major event at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte. Hospitals at the Queen City would be at full capacity. About 80 volunteers that pretended to be victims; and were flown to the Midlands.

      "They come into this as a staging area," Lexington Medical Registered Nurse Peggy Holt said. "We assess the patients, make sure they are stable, and we get them assigned to one of the outline hospitals."

      Agencies also worked on tracking patients, communication procedures, security, and other logistics. The exercise is held annually by the U.S. Department of Defense's Federal Coordination Center. Organizers say Wednesday's exercise was planned months in advance. But Monday's attack in Boston was a sobering reminder as to why it is always important to stay prepared."

      "We know because of hurricane season, threats of terrorism, that there is always going to be a need for healthcare response," Straub said. "Much like 9/11, those things are all palpable to the communities we serve."

      "It makes it all the more important that we do this on a regular basis; so that heaven forbid, it should happen in this area, we are ready to go."

      Training they hope won't have to be used in real life.