The Greensburg-Decatur County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) moved closer to finalizing the county’s Comprehensive Emergency Plan (CEMP) Wednesday night, and will meet again June 19 to discuss whether to revise the plan further or submit it for approval to the Decatur County Commissioners.
Although EMA Director Rob Duckworth is pleased with the progress made to date on the CEMP, he doesn’t believe it’s quite ready for review by the commissioners.
He told the Daily News that the sole remaining area in need of significant revision deals with resources that can be obtained from surrounding counties in the event of a local disaster or emergency.
A prime example of such resources, the director explained, are traffic barricades.
“Those tend to run thin very quickly in an emergency,” he said, citing the May 2011 tornado. “We needed to close off certain areas following the May 2011 storms, but were unable to close them all because we had a limited number of barricades.”
Duckworth stressed, though, that the current CEMP draft is almost ready for final approval.
The CEMP, he explained, is basically a comprehensive checklist which allows the various personnel from the various agencies coordinated by the EMA to “know what to do in an emergency.”
“We all know what our jobs are on a daily basis,” he said, “but the CEMP clearly defines everyone’s role in an emergency. It helps everyone know what to do very early on during an incident. Everybody’s job is clearly defined on the checklist.”
He continued, “For instance, we might need someone to contact the water or the power company. Or we might need someone to be sure we have enough extra batteries for everybody’s radio. The CEMP clarifies all that beforehand, so we don’t have to worry about it during an emergency.”
The CEMP includes contingencies for a range of possible accidents and disasters, including disease epidemics, civil disturbances, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, biological and radiological incidents, dam breaches and hazardous materials leak.
As of December 2012, the CEMP also includes a contingency for a plane crash.
“We learned a lot in the plane crash,” Duckworth said. He pointed out, however, that “lots of things went right” in December’s response to the crash due to what’s been learned and put into place since the May 2011 tornado.
Readers will notice that several items on the CEMP list don’t seem very likely to happen in Decatur County. Duckworth agreed with that, but pointed out that such events can have a bigger impact on a larger number of people if or when they do happen.
“That’s why we have them on the list,” the director said. “That’s why we prepare for them and put plans into place. It may be unlikely that we’d experience a radiological incident in Decatur County, but if one did happen, it could potentially affect a lot more people than other types of incidents. And that’s why it’s on the CEMP and why we’ve got plans in place to deal with such an incident.”
Creating a revised and updated CEMP has been a primary goal of the current EMA since the May 20ll storms, Duckworth said. It’s completion will mark a significant milestone under Duckworth’s tenure.
“Our CEMP gives us pre-drawn, incident-specific checklists; we didn’t have that before,” he said.
The agency also reviewed its Strategic Preparedness Plan (SPP) on Wednesday night.
According to Duckworth, the SPP is a set of plans and goals regarding training and specific objectives the EMA has established to help maximize effective response to a local disaster or emergency.
The SPP includes two main focus areas, Duckworth added: Planning and training.
Duckworth will also be attending a June 17 meeting of the Decatur County Community Schools and the Greensburg Community Schools District, wherein the two districts will work to create a joint emergency response plan.
That plan was necessitated by the recently enacted Senate Bill 1, which awards grants from the Indiana Department of Homeland security for communities who create such plans.
“We don’t know what our role would be from their joint plan,” Duckworth said. “But they don’t have a plan in place yet. When they finalize one, we’ll help provide county-wide direction on school safety response, working within their policies, which is how we partner with all the agencies we work with.”
The next regular public meeting of the Decatur County EMA will be at 7 p.m., June 19, at the command center, located at 315 South Ireland Street.
Contact: Rob Cox 812-663-3111 x7011