Originally created 01/18/98

`Two faces of Pam'



`Two faces of Pam'

Two Augusta doctors once wrote a famous book about The Three Faces of Eve. Today we examine an equally perplexing split personality -- "The Two Faces of Pam."

Richmond County Emergency Management Services head Pam Tucker is our new subject.

Everyone in Richmond County should be concerned about her statements and actions in the aftermath of last Sunday's small, harmless chemical release from the Amoco Polymers plant in the Goshen area.

Particularly upsetting is the botched "evacuation" of some 100 Clanton Road residents by ill-trained firefighters and four of Tucker's units.

But let's get back to analyzing Pam No. 1 and Pam No. 2:

A professionally-done video by the Arcadian Corp. -- one which has been played in south Augusta schools and businesses -- features her touting a "shelter-in-place" strategy. "Stay where you are (preferably in a home or a vehicle) until the chemical threat passes," is Tucker's advice. "Do not get children out of school," is additional advice, because teachers "are trained and know what to do in the event of a chemical emergency."

Fire Department Capt. Dan Parson says, "I telephoned Pam Tucker ... and asked who made the call to evacuate rather than `shelter-in-place' ... She said that decision was made by Battalion Chief Tommy Whitener ... She stated ... that, as they proceeded house to house notifying residents of the incident, that they, pretty much on their own, decided to leave the area."

Allow people to flee?

This is a terrible judgment call by firefighters and Tucker's people at the scene.

What if winds were carrying dangerous fumes through the area? The resi-dents could have been fleeing, willy-nilly, right into danger.

Also, why did firemen and Tucker's people knock on just 100 doors around Clanton Road to get people out? Why weren't residents warned at nearby Gracewood State School and Hospital, as well as in the Covington and Old Waynesboro Road areas near the Amoco plant?

Finally, here's more evidence of "two Pams":

A serious Tucker says she "didn't realize until last week how close the (new proposed) high school will be to the plants." And then: "Maybe we've made some mistakes in the past ... with where we've built some things."

A cheery Tucker reviews the record of all Richmond County chemical plants in the Arcadian video. "Our companies are the safest in the state," she chirps. There has "never been a problem."

Which Pam Tucker do we believe?

While we figure that out, she and Fire Chief Ronnie Few had better get their act together with regard to future evacuation procedures.

Our advice: Stick with Pam No. 1 and her "shelter-in-place" strategy.