Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Director Tom Cooper updated members of the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) on several developments at their June 11 meeting.
Cooper reported that $3,750 remaining from a Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) grant will be used toward the CriPos system, a database being developed by REPS Inc. The goal of CriPos is to provide quick information to first responders on a number of emergency response scenarios.
"That project will be finished in September," he said.
Cooper relayed a message from Ramzi Nasssar, the man in charge of developing the database program, that CriPos may be receiving a large monetary investment from an interested party in Florida. He spoke highly of Nassar's dedication to CriPos.
"He really has his heart set on making this project work," he said, urging any interested departments involved with LEPC to invest in the database.
The LEPC is preparing to apply for the next round of grants from the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), in the amount of $5,000, and HMEP, in the amount of $1,000. If attained, those funds may also be used for the CriPos system.
Another financial update revealed that they have about $500 remaining from previously unclaimed funds of $1,200. These funds were discovered by the State Treasurer's Office and had been unclaimed for over 10 years. This funding has and will continue to pay for any additional expenditures regarding projects and equipment for the LEPC.
Other funds recently received include separate grants from the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security (DHS) adding up to a total of $69,000: an installment of $25,000 will be invested in a military-grade inflatable shelter; $7,000 will pay for shelter supplies, allowing the LEPC to purchase 60 military-grade cots, 12 special needs cots with IV racks, 72 pillows with cases, more than 72 blankets with cloths to lay over them, towels, personal kits and fans; $1,000 will pay for pet supplies such as cages, bowls, and leashes; $5,000 will pay for a trailer to store the previously listed equipment and serve as a potential command center; another $5,000 will pay for video monitoring equipment, including four cameras and one relay for the remote monitoring of shelter activity, in order to allow those in charge of shelters to view conditions without having to leave the command post; $14,000 will pay for handheld thermal imaging cameras, which will serve in searching for lost persons; and $12,000 will pay for handheld radios, each of which can operate on the State Interoperable Radio Network, for county fire departments and ambulances.
New Martinsville citizen Bill Hughes attended the meeting to discuss possible ways to reduce what he referred to as "nuisance calls" for emergency responders. He cited the area's natural gas boom as the largest increase for emergency response calls, due to drivers traveling on unfamiliar terrain,steep hills, high roads and roads that were not intended for large trucks. He emphasized the importance of properly trained and implemented drivers and escort drivers.
"I appreciate the presence of all of the first responders but would like to see what local citizens and others can do to get information to all the folks so that we can limit or minimize the need for them in what I refer to as nuisance incidents," he said. "That doesn't mean that if someone is injured they're a nuisance. It just means that a little advanced planning might have avoided some of these (incidents)."
Hughes stated that emergencies are bound to happen and expressed the importance of responders being prepared and ready for such events.
"That's greatly appreciated," said Cooper of Hughes's statements, pointing to representatives from Stone Energy, Triad Hunter, and Noble Energy. "As you can see we have three experts from the field. These folks work with us and are very proactive."
Members of LEPC are in the process of updating two annexes. Robin Daquilante and Melinda Walton of Tyler County Schools reviewed the annex regarding Special Needs and suggested no changes. Penny Howard has worked on updating the Mass Care Sheltering annex and passed it to Tom Cooper for review. When finished, the committee will need to approve these updated annexes.
The SERC Conference will be held Aug. 26-28 in Charleston, W.Va. Cooper urged anyone interested in attending the event to contact him. He can be reached at his office, 304-758-5155; on his cell phone, 304-771-3674; or at home, 304-3379366. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proviron sponsored breakfast, and Sistersville General Hospital offered to sponsor breakfast at the next meeting, which is planned for 9 a.m. on Aug. 1 in the Sistersville Fire Hall.
At the next meeting, the LEPC will be discussing its bylaws, and those volunteers who are interested may apply to become members of the committee.