Carter County Courthouse bomb threat reveals safety needs

John Thompson • Dec 4, 2012 at 9:49 AM

ELIZABETHTON — The county’s response to last week’s bomb threat to the courthouse was discussed by the Health and Welfare Committee of the Carter County Commission on Monday night.

Andrew Worley, the emergency management director for the county, attended the meeting to give his assessment of the problems uncovered during the bomb threat.

The incident proved to be a good evaluation of the emergency evacuation plan for the courthouse, Worley said.

One of the most noticeable problems was the area designated for employees to assemble after evacuation. The employees gathered in the area, the parking lot north of the courthouse. The police determined the area was too close to the building in the event of an explosion. It was also deemed to be unsuitable for days of inclement or cold weather.

Committee Chairwoman Jo Ann Blankenship suggested the nearby First Free Will Baptist Church would make a suitable area for evacuated courthouse employees to shelter.

Worley said another problem was the length of time it took to get the word to evacuate to all employees. Because of poor communication, the evacuation took 15 minutes.

The bomb threat and the county’s response will be the subject of more conversation today in a meeting on courthouse security.

Worley told the committee that Carter County was one of 30 counties in the state to receive a bomb threat on Nov. 27. He said four states have received such a series of threats recently.

In other matters, Blankenship said Carter County Health Department is now offering flu shots. She said no appointment was necessary and the shots are being provided from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays.

Blankenship said the Health Department is now offering dental services to children. The only dental service provided for adults is pain relief, at a cost of $5. She said the department does not prescribe narcotics and no narcotics are kept on site.

The Health and Welfare Committee was also scheduled to discuss the proposed exclusive franchise with the Carter County Rescue Squad, but Blankenship said the squad’s board of directors have not yet met to discuss the contract.

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