When Bridgestone completed the new downtown tower and the operations center a couple of years ago, they wanted to make sure their employees were safe. They became “Storm Ready”, a designation from the National Weather Service.
Chuck Tarver, Leader of Bridgestone’s Emergency Response Team explained their plan of action:
“Any time a storm comes in the area based on the Weather Service, we notify communication-wise to let everybody know if we need to take shelter. So we have a formalized plan to do that at any time or evacuate the building if need be. And we practice that at least once a year.”
Tarver said employees would follow glow in the dark signs to mark areas such as stairwells or designated bathrooms. Their emergency response teams will have radios to signal when it’s all clear.
Bridgestone’s other buildings have had a plan of action in place for years, and it likely saved lives on February 24, 2011, when their Lebanon tire distribution warehouse took a direct hit from an EF-2 tornado with 111-135 mph winds, ripping part of the building apart.
When the warning from the National Weather Service was issued, workers were ushered to the designated safe spot in the building just in time.
Tarver is also a Wilson County EMA and Fire Department Volunteer and was on the scene within 30 minutes after the tornado struck.
“There were twenty-something teammates working that evening. And the potential, because the wall landed in the main work area where supervisors were, the potential for serious injury or death could have happened if we weren’t prepared. The wall came down on top of forklifts and desk space where people were working just moments earlier.”
Tarver said there were only two minor injuries, proving that having a plan in place and taking quick action can save lives.