Disaster Drills Down at Piedmont College

An explosion at Piedmont’s Swanson center has resulted in 28 casualties and 100 injuries. “Someone lost their husband and their father,” Emily Bran said as barrels of smoke poured out of the building on Wednesday. so far there are 28 confirmed casualties and at least 100 people injured from a blast that quickly turned into a fully engulfed fire that began in the Theater Department of the building.

Multiple agencies were dispatched to the scene and a request put into Georgia Emergency Management. “We got called out here to an explosion and a fire to assist the local EMA in any way possible,” Dave Shanks, coordinator for Homeland Security said. “Our response time was about 20 minutes.”

AirLife helicopters were landing and taking off in 15 minute intervals transporting multiple critical patients from the scene. “There were a lot of burns and trampled people from other people running out,” nurse Natalie Winters said. “We have a lot of blood trauma and several casualties.”

Chief Jim Andrews of Piedmont College addressed reporters. “Shortly after the fire was reported, we had an explosion also.” he said. “Several agencies are on the scene to assist.”

The call came into the [911] center this morning around 10 o’clock. It was reported that there was a fire and multiple injuries. As things progressed, we were requesting additional units as well as the coroner, mobile morgue, AirLife and power companies,” Lynn Smith, 911 EMS Supervisor said.

Several people were screaming and unsure of what was happening. “He’s brown, his name’s Rover. If you call his name, he’lll come up and lick your leg and that’s when you’ll know it’s him,” Kra Hawke said about her missing service dog – frantically searching amongst the commotion.

Agencies responding included the – City of Demorest Fire, Habersham Medical Center, Habersham EMS, Habersham Fire, Habersham Sheriff Canine Units, EMA Center for Homeland Security, District 2 Public Health and Habersham County Search & Rescue.

“I believe it is way too early for anyone to have an origin or a cause on the fire.” Dale Palmer said.

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