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THON organizers execute evacuation plan

By: WJAC Web Staff

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- For the first time ever, THON organizers held an emergency drill to help them be better prepared for a worst-case scenario that would require the Bryce Jordan Center to be evacuated during this weekend's annual dance marathon.

The max occupancy for the BJC on the Penn State campus is more than 16,000 people and it's expect to be filled to capacity throughout most of the weekend. More than 700 dancers and tens of thousands of supporters are expected to be inside for THON 2014.

"They have a lot more people coming and they're responsible for their safety," said Centre County Emergency Coordinator Shawn Kauffman.

Officials said they have always had an evacuation plan on paper but taking that plan and putting it into action is more important this year.

"They should be doing a drill every year and we hope they continue to do that," Kauffman said.

More than 300 students are assigned as captains and during a disaster and each of them has a particular job, said THON public relations director Dana Giacobello.

"Some people in charge of spectators, [some are] in charge of families and [some are] in charge of our dancers," Giacobello said.

THON officials said they never have had a threat or a major problem in 41 years, but they understand that times have changed.

Another new thing this year is organizers are keeping track of everyone coming in and out of the building with wrist bands. Those will be used to let people know when they're able to come inside.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times