January 27, 2005

EMS Providers Gather For Emergency Planning Meeting

Representatives of local government, fire departments, law enforcement, and health care gathered January 20 at Scotland County Memorial Hospital for an Emergency Resource Management Committee meeting.

Teresa Lee, Scotland County Emergency Response Management Director chaired the meeting with more than two dozen attendees from the local emergency planning committees.

Lee discussed hosting a training fair that would offer a variety of course work and hands-on instruction for local emergency service providers.

She pointed out that the SCERM is required to hold at least one annual training event incorporating the various EMS providers in the community such as fire departments, law enforcement, ambulance, etc.

The group discussed a number of scenarios for the proposed disaster drill, varying from a plane crash, to a train derailment involving a chemical spill.

Ambulance personnel requested that the drill include a larger number of patients in order to extend the local providers beyond normal capacity and allow providers to develop plans for dealing with a mass-casualty type of accident.

Last year organizers ran a drill at the fairgrounds involving a staged motor vehicle accident that involved downed power lines as well.

After discussing needed training, the group agreed that a larger drill would be necessary to incorporate all local agencies. One suggestion involved some type of explosion at a fertilizer plant, not only involving a large number of victims but also the spill of hazardous chemicals.

Scotland County Ambulance Director Jose Padilla gave a brief update on his research into an enhanced 911 system for Scotland County. At an October 2004 meeting the group had agreed to consider the feasibility of installing the national emergency phone number system to centralize dispatching for all local EMS providers.

Padilla indicated that Raycom of Pella, IA, has agreed to travel to Scotland County to review the current conditions and to possibly perform a feasibility study. However the company had canceled a January 19 site visit and was in the process of rescheduling.

Memphis Alderman Ron Gardner suggested that Padilla speak with representatives of Lewis County, which has E-911 services. Gardner stated that Lewis County had expressed some interest in contracting with Scotland County to provide the service, allowing both entities to share the cost of the expensive system.

Lee discussed equipment needs and available funding with a number of local entities. The Scotland County Sheriff’s Department is seeking air packs as well as an emergency generator to power the dispatch center during outages. The Gorin Fire Department needs radios, air packs, as well as a cascade system to refill air bottles. The Rutledge Fire Department also is in need of air packs. Rick Fisher of KMEM radio reported that funding is needed for an EANS electronic notification system that would allow dispatchers to use the local radio station to inform the public of emergencies.

Lee indicated that the SCERM had received preliminary bids for a HAZMAT equipment trailer that would house a generator, fuel storage systems and other equipment that would be used in a time of a disaster. The trailer would also serve as a command center for relief efforts. Lee stated cost would likely be around $17,000 for a turnkey operation and indicated she is continuing to work on funding to allow the group to proceed.

Funding options were discussed as well as alternatives such as purchasing a van, or seeking donation of a vehicle that could serve the group’s needs.

The group also spent time reviewing policy and procedural manuals that will help establish protocol as well as a chain of command to be followed during any joint efforts by local EMS providers during times of emergency.

March 24 was established as the next meeting date.

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