"Mass disaster drills serve the communityMass disaster drills like the one held at South Whidbey High School June 19 are unnerving but a comfortable reminder to the community that our emergency service personnel are preparing for anything.South Whidbey's Fire Protection District 3 leads the region-wide drill which also involves the Island County Sheriff's Office, Whidbey General Hospital, Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue, Sheriff's Volunteers, Airlift Northwest, and the Langley and Oak Harbor police departments.This year's drill was the fourth annual and was especially unsettling because the emergency responders were called to the high school for a Columbine-like shooting incident in which many students were injured in a simulated, yet gruesome, fashion.Previous drills have dealt with such scenarios as major fires and school bus collisions. Each drill is carefully crafted to involve as many emergency personnel as possible.The drills are conducted with amazing professionalism, a testament to our largely-volunteer contingent of Fire District 3 responders, including firefighters and EMT's. The few paid staff are obviously doing an outstanding job of training the volunteers.Extensive notes, photographs and videos are taken at the drill site to document what happened. The good and the bad will be used in training classes for years to come. The direct expense of the drill, some $3,500, is minimal compared to the experience and knowledge gained.Hopefully, what is learned in these drills will never be needed in a real-life catastrophe. But if one ever does occur, it is comforting to know that, thanks to leadership shown by Fire District 3 personnel, our emergency responders will be ready.Survey in print editionWe encourage readers of The South Whidbey Record to fill out a special survey included in a four-page section in the Wednesday, June 27 edition.Pulse Research Inc. of Portland, Ore., was contracted to prepare the survey. The company is highly regarded in the business and has conducted similar surveys for The Record in past years.Questions ask each reader's opinion of this newspaper's editorial content, advertising and circulation, plus individual demographic information that will be of interest to our advertisers.All responses will be strictly confidential and will not be used for solicitation purposes. No irritating phone calls or junk mail -- simply a survey included in the newspaper.With your honest input, we can make The South Whidbey Record a better newspaper. And you could win a thousand dollars in a drawing of participants. Thanks in advance for your cooperation. "

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