Members of the Local Emergency Planning Committee shared information and made plans for activities including table top exercises during a committee meeting Aug. 23 at the Pratt Fire Station.
The time to plan for emergencies is not when a tornado has just torn through the middle of a town or floodwaters are pouring through the streets or train cars with dangerous chemicals have derailed in town.
The Local Emergency Planning Committee brings together various organizations and entities to plan and prepare for potential disasters, the role each will play during the disaster and a communications chain so these entities can work together.
At a LEPC meeting Aug. 23, representatives from Emergency Management, Pratt Regional Medical Center, Pratt Rehabilitation and Residence center, Pratt County Emergency Services, American Red Cross, county commissioners, City of Pratt, Ministerial Alliance, Sheriff ’s Office, Pratt Police Department, Pratt Ethanol plant, pipeline representative and other entities shared recent information, upcoming events and ideas on how to be better prepared in case of an emergency situation. A Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program is coming in October and participants have to do that program to take part in a second Homeland event in December for exercises design for discussion-based exercises.
A faith based emergency planning workshop is in the works for the fall. Branscom said he wants to put workshops and events with large crowds on one calendar for everyone’s convenience.
Sometime in February, 2019, LEPC will have a table-top exercise where these entities will have a chance to practice coordination during an emergency simulation.
Tim Branscom, Pratt County Emergency Manager, said there is now a whole community approach to handling emergencies. Everyone at the LEPC meeting would bring something to the table in a disaster and that he is reaching out to more people to get involved with the process.
Risk assessment throughout the county is currently underway to determine what assets are available and what is needed. The countywide assessment is about half complete, Branscom said.
Ashley Cook, Pratt County Health Department clerk, said she wants to organize a public safety fair with activities for all ages from youngsters to seniors. The purpose of the event would be to communicate to everyone what local responders do.
She would like to get Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks involved to offer a gun safety and water safety program. Also, she would like to have programs on substance abuse, weather service information, car seat safety and other areas. There are many services available and this event helps make the public aware of what is out there, Cook said.
“I want this to be a big event,” Cook said.
Several at the meeting volunteered to assist getting this event organized. More information on the event is forthcoming as it becomes available.
Darcie VanDerVyver, director of public health, said her department would be taking part in a exercise in Kiowa County that would prepare for getting medication out in mass quantities in the event of a health outbreak of some kind. The event will be in early October with a training session then actual vaccinations will be given out.
Deb Tucker, American Red Cross disaster program manager, shared information on the importance of training volunteers and what it takes to set up a shelter following a disaster. She said it only takes a couple of trained people to set up a shelter.
Tucker said while having trained volunteers is important, they have to be supervised from the beginning of an event for efficiency.
The Red Cross covers nine counties, including Pratt, and Tucker has to cover 60 counties.
An important aspect of emergency planning is table top exercises. There will be more exercises and workshops available.