said the entrance to the Wal-Mart Supercenter, one of the planned
distribution sites for "medicine" to be handed out to
members of the public participating in the April 13 exercise, is
too dangerous to handle the increased traffic.
Assistant McAlester Police Chief George Scott advised against
using the Wal-Mart Supercenter as one of the distribution sites,
calling the entrance to it off Comanche Avenue "the most
dangerous intersection in the city."
"We have accidents there every day," Scott said,
referring to the intersection and nearby service roads.
Anticipating more accidents if the Wal-Mart Supercenter parking
lot is used as a distribution site, Scott said "I might as
well preposition an officer with a tape measure."
The scenario for the exercise, called Sooner Spring, includes a
response to a simulated bioterrorism attack to dispense the
pneumonic plague on the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant and the
city of McAlester on April 12.
Plans then call for area residents to receive
"antibiotics" in the form of jelly beans or fruit
drinks, on April 13. The purpose is to test how well emergency
responders can react to a bioterrorism attack and a need to
provide treatment or protection to area residents.
Plans call for the distribution sites to include the Wal-Mart
Supercenter, the Warren Clinic, the Southeast Expo Center and the
Pittsburg County Health Department, as well as the towns of Krebs,
Crowder and Kiowa. Area residents are being asked to come by one
of the sites on April 13 and pick up their "medicine."
Anticipation of even more people than usual crowding in the
Wal-Mart Supercenter on Saturday, April 13, led police to voice
"When you look at a site, you should look at a big open
site, with lots of exits," Scott said. He said the LEPC
should reconsider the Wal-Mart site.
During the debate, Pittsburg County Medical Director Dr. David
Cathey and David Wadley of Wadley's Ambulance Service were among
those who noted that the Wal-Mart Supercenter is one of the most
well-known sites in the area and would get a lot of public
Questions were raised about having officers direct traffic.
Scott, as well as Pittsburg County Sheriff Jeorme "Snookie"
Amaranto, didn't think it feasible to have officers on U.S.
Highway 69 directing traffic through the intersection. Scott said
it would deplete too many resources, since it would take more than
"I think I can safely say the McAlester Police Department
is not going to put any officers in the intersection," Scott
Amaranto said the sheriff's department wouldn't either,
predicting traffic would soon be tied up for a mile if officers
tried to direct traffic through the Highway 69 intersection.
Pittsburg County Undersheriff D.G. "Stoney"
Stonecipher noted the Wal-Mart Supercenter parking lot is on
private property, not a public roadway. Accidents there are
considered as occurring on private property.
Wadley said if the Wal-Mart Supercenter site is used, he
planned to pre-position an ambulance at the site, in anticipation
of an accident.
McAlester Army Ammunition Plant Fire Chief Don Kapps suggested
using the Kiamichi Technology Center as one of the distribution
sites, instead of Wal-Mart.
LEPC President Larry Burnett and the rest of the group agreed
to table action on finalizing the sites until their next meeting,
with plans to approach KTC about using that facility as a
In other action, Dr. Bob Petrone said containers being brought
by helicopter and fixed wing aircraft to McAlester Regional
Airport on April 13 will probably be carrying empty plastic
Pittsburg County Health Department Director Mike
Echelle said the jelly-beans and drinks to be used in place of
real antibiotics will already be in McAlester.
The group also decided to work on using one radio frequency for
all emergency responders and law enforcement participating in the
Dr. Cathey said security issues could come up during the
exercise and its aftermath.
"We're not going to be out there talking about the
weakness of the exercise," he said.
Contact James Beaty at: email@example.com.