At Thursday's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Volunteer meeting, held downstairs in the Tyler County Senior Center, OEM Director Tom Cooper listed possible changes in plans for both the OEM and Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC).
Cooper recently discovered that Homeland Security canceled its March 21 statewide full-scale exercise and laid off the team scheduled to lead the training. Cooper attributed the cancelation to the discovery of significant gaps in state planning and various response capabilities. Those issues need to be corrected before Homeland Security can move forward with the exercise.
"We do plan to continue the exercise," Cooper said, stating that local full-scale drills may still occur.
Bob Edwards tries out the communications station. The box supplies portable telephone, network and radio communications hardware. It allows the operator to talk to and page out nearly any response agency in the county, as well as allowing Emergency Management to communicate with Homeland security. (Photo courtesy of Chris Hoke.)
Cooper will discuss the possibility with Homeland Security of conducting the exercise at the local level. According to him, the OEM is required to undergo the training in order to qualify for the Emergency Management Performance Grant, which reimburses the county for half of OEM costs. Although no official time has been set for the training, they discussed holding it from noon to 8 p.m. at the Sistersville Fire Hall on March 21.
He added that he would also like to conduct another shelter training, as well as another search and rescue training.
Other OEM and LEPC news included: receiving decals and lights for an OEM truck; holding a class for those interested in learning to use advanced radio test equipment received from the military; holding radiological Geiger counter training for firefighters; and photo work for the CriPos database.
Also, set up at the meeting were a variety of functional stations that would be found in a Field Command Center. The stations consisted of technological systems in communications, logistics, planning, operations, incident command, weather information and medical.
OEM Volunteer and LEPC member Al Tuttle operated Terrain Navigator Pro, one of the new systems. He described the benefits of picking up landmarks with aerial photos, referring to it as a mathematical way to pinpoint distances. Radios with GPS can be used to transmit data and indicate where fellow search members are on the map and how much area they have covered. By converting landscape images from 2D to 3D, search parties can prepare for the terrain. The map is also capable of associating images and clues with locations.
"It's a game changer in search and rescue to be able to load maps and print them right there," said Cooper.
"The next version of Terrain Pro can track iPhones and iPads," said Tuttle.
Tuttle will lead a map training class downstairs in the Senior Center on March 13 at 6 p.m.
The next LEPC meeting is planned for April 11 at 9 a.m. in the Sistersville Fire Hall. OEM Volunteers will meet later that evening, at 7 p.m., in the Tyler County Senior Center. New volunteers are welcome. For more information, contact Tom Cooper at office,304-758-5155; mobile,304-771-3674; home, 304-337-9366; or email, firstname.lastname@example.org.