Preparing for disasters


Community leaders gathered to be evaluated on the county’s preparedness in the event of a disaster Thursday evening at the Fayette County Emergency Management Agency. Representatives at the meeting include members from the Washington Police Department, the Washington Fire Department, the EMA director for the state, a Fayette County Sheriff’s deputy, Fayette County EMS employees and more.

The Fayette County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) held a table-top exercise Thursday evening to display the preparedness of the county in the event of a disaster.

The EMA is required to hold an evaluation regularly to show how well prepared the county would be in a potentially deadly scenario. While evaluators assess the members of the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), members must come together to determine the best course of action for the county if tragedy would strike. The EMA has three options on how to be evaluated. They can hold a functional evaluation, a full-scale evaluation, or they can choose a table-top evaluation.

Representatives at the meeting included members from the Washington Police Department, the Washington Fire Department, the EMA director for the state, a Fayette County Sheriff’s deputy, Fayette County EMS employees, employees with Fayette County Memorial Hospital, employees with Red Cross of Fayette County, employees of the Fayette County Health Department, Fayette County Commissioners, and more.

The EMA chose to complete a table-top evaluation this year. Fulton Terry, director of the Fayette County EMA, presented a scenario that went as follows: two men in a crop duster leave Fayette County Airport and begin to apply an insecticide to plants surrounding the Fayette County YMCA, located on State Route 41. After some unknown failure, the plane crashes directly into the reservoir, behind YMCA, and breaks a part of the dam releasing millions of gallons of water out of the supply. Since the plane was carrying an insecticide, the LEPC is called to handle the situation.

The discussion began with various first responders, including the police, sheriff’s office, fire department and EMS, describing what they would begin to do. After determining if the area was safe, or if people need to be evacuated due to any deadly smoke mixture, the group would begin notifying members who could assist with determining if the water supply is tainted. Volunteers could be gained from the Red Cross, and all at the meeting offered a little more insight that should make the community leaders more aware of what the county can do in these types of scenarios.

“Overall we had a good crowd and I was very pleased with the group,” Terry said during a phone interview Friday. “This scenario is a little extreme, but we know the issue is all too real when something of this nature happens. We demonstrated how we would exercise a county emergency plan and the evaluation will be sent to Columbus to help us become even more prepared in the future. We have to work together in the county to get more accomplished. Only by working together will we be able to be prepared for the worst.”

The EMA should know the results of the evaluation in the coming weeks.

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