The mock drill is timely because east Mississippi has experiences two rounds of severe weather the past two weekends. Officials design the drills to mimic what could happen and practice handling the real thing.
"This is a drill. Lauderdale County has been placed under a tornado warning," said dispatcher Harrell Akin, in issuing the mock warning. "Doppler radar has indicated a tornado six miles south of Clarkdale school moving northeast at fifty miles per hour. Repeat, this is a drill."
And so it began. Several mock tornadoes moved over Lauderdale County high schools. Four students lay dead, many others were critically injured. Allied health students began to help those they could while emergency officials arrived on the scene.
Approximately ten minutes after injuries were reported, Meridian Fire Department, both city and county law enforcement, as well as Metro ambulances pulled in and began transporting the injured to the hospital.
Then the medical staff at Anderson Hospital begin dealing with a flood of 'injured' teens.
"We're looking to assess which patients are the most critical, to which area they need to be treated in, whether they are emergency patients or if they can go to another area and have those injuries taken care of," said registered nurse Deshea Shields.
When the disaster drill ended, the evaluation began. If a tornado similar to the Yazoo City EF4 were to cause injuries like the ones made with fake blood and gauze, would the county be organized enough to save residents' lives?
"The seriousness, the professionalism, was exceptional," said Meridian Police Officer Keith Moody.
"Definitely, I think we are better prepared than other places can be or are," said training coordinator Eddie Ivy. "Do we have room to improve? Certainly. You always have room to improve but I think we did step to the plate."
"There are little glitches that we found," said emergency management director, David Sharp. "Some of them corrected themselves, right there on the scene, and some of them were correct in our planning."
The saying goes that practice makes perfect. And while crisis situations never unfold the way one would think, at least Lauderdale County can say that it has a game plan.