Madison County Commission Chairman speaks on tense environment during Redstone Arsenal incident

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. -- Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong was heading to Redstone Arsenal for a meeting yesterday when he first got the notification about the emergency situation. Chairman Strong has worked closely with HEMSI officials before, and went to the scene to assist.

"Very tense, when you've got that many people in bullet proof vests, highly armed, it's a tense environment," Strong explained.

Chairman Strong said he actually knew people inside the buildings that were affected, and was trying to help any way he could.

"I'm getting texts from people within the building, and of course the thing is to maintain them secure. I said "Just stay where they're at until they're removed from law enforcement, that's the safest thing,'" he said.

Strong has a public safety background, and an understanding of emergency situations, having worked for both HEMSI and Huntsville Med-Flight. He applauds Redstone Arsenal's response to the incident.

"I concur with what they did based on the information they had. You look at it, 1.5 million square foot building with some 5,000 employees in it," he said it's going to take some time to secure an area like that.

"Some heat issues you had to worry about. The cars were secure, and then clearing a couple different buildings because of what occurred. It's just one of these things, it's a process," said Strong.

He said the years of training and exercises paid off yesterday. "The response from HEMSI, placing our hospitals on notification, because again, you only get one chance at making this decision."

A number of agencies assisted the arsenal during the incident, including FBI, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, Huntsville police department, and the Madison County Sheriff's office.

"It is definitely a large network to clear that many square feet, and that many people involved. It was a very organized and orchestrated effort," said Strong.

Chairman Strong said they are thankful for the way things turned out.