The Tyler County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) received updates about the school radio station project at their Dec. 5 meeting. In the event of an emergency, the group intends to run emergency broadcasts from Knights Radio 91.5 WRSG, a 24-hour FM radio station. The plans incorporate events that may cause power failure.
"It covers the county pretty well," said LEPC Co-Chairman Tom Cooper of WRSG. "It's a good tool for us to talk to the public during emergencies. The problem with the derecho (storm) last year was that the power was down at the school and the tower site. We could have possibly generated power to the tower site, but the school is a different story. The studio is in the middle of the school and it's difficult to get the power into it.
"Engineer Tom Taggart came up with the idea of moving the emergency alert system device to the tower site. We could put a small generator at the tower site, bring up the transmitter, and tie into that device with the internet and make regular public announcements."
91.5 WRSG’s radio tower
During power failures the Office of Emergency Management (OEM), of which Cooper is the director, will continue to be powered by generators.
"I can see the tower from my office," he said, stating that they can 'beam' OEM internet to it. "That will give us a direct path to make announcements."
Music could be played from his office in Middlebourne in order to keep people tuned into the station for such announcements.
"I think we have just about everything we need now," he said of the radio station project.
He also said that state mitigation funding may go toward supplying a generator to the tower site. Mitigation funds are meant to lessen the effects of disasters that cannot be prevented. They are looking into using that funding to purchase generators for several sites that can serve the people during such events.
"Mitigation money can be used to purchase sirens," he said, indicating recent discussions about emergency alert systems.
While explaining that the old siren used in Sistersville needs repaired and that Middlebourne's siren was destroyed in a fire, he expressed confidence in the county's overall siren situation.
"Alma has one, Shirley has one, Momentive has two, and Paden City has one," he said. "We're further ahead than we thought."
The main focus for the LEPC in 2014 will be public notifications. For that purpose they will be working to update public notification and public information annexes throughout the year.
"Public notification is the system, public information is the people that make the announcements," he said, handing out a list of notification methods. "There are a lot of ways to talk to the public."
He discussed breaking into small groups within the LEPC to come up with further ideas for public notification. He said he would update the committee when he found more information on some of the systems.
Cooper presented applications to those present who would like to be voting members of the LEPC. Charles Smith, a member of the LEPC and Tyler County Commission, was presented with those applications for approval by the commission.
"Last meeting our bylaws were all approved," reported Cooper, relaying that they have been submitted to the state.
The committee approved both the Mass Care Shelter Annex and Communications Annex. Cooper thanked those members who helped to revise the annexes.
"(Tyler County Schools Director of Transportation and Maintenance) Troy Smith has submitted changes to the Evacuation Annex," he said. "It's the basic plan, but we've taken out a reference to the Red Cross and added a memorandum of understanding between the OEM and the bus garage to share their repeaters in emergencies."
He cited past instances when they had to work together for that purpose.
"That was a significant change and a good idea from Troy," he said.
The committee then approved the Evacuation Annex.
Cooper reported that Triad Hunter is working on a new system that will more safely purge their new well.
"We're no longer venting vapors to the atmosphere," explained Triad Hunter representative Brent Powell. "They're being contained inside the tanks and being flowed out into the flare. The flare is what we use to minimize the hazard by burning the gas until the well is fully flowed back. That hopefully makes the progress even safer."
Cooper reported on updates for the CriPos database.
"We've worked on that for a few years now," he said. "We applied for a grant that would include ambulance, fire, health department, and law enforcement in the database. It would give them access to the database and allow them to store their inventories securely."
He said that secured information would only be shared to help with emergency situations. According to Cooper, the entire system can be run on the iPad.
"There are agencies in West Virginia that run completely on CriPos," he said.
Cooper informed the group that Noble Energy is sponsoring an 'Oil Field Awareness for First Responders' training. It will take place Feb. 8 at the Middlebourne Volunteer Fire Station. At the next LEPC meeting, he will update the committee on the start time of the training.
The LEPC is now looking for assistance with social media art and design for their emergency management websites. Cooper mentioned the possibility of having students who are advanced in social media design work on the project.
"All of the media need the same brand to be easily recognizable," he said.
LEPC member Al Tuttle reported on the Yellow Dot Program that the Department of Highways is running.
"They'll give you a yellow, vinyl folder and a yellow dot to put on the right rear of your car and you're supposed to put any pertinent medical information in the yellow folder and stick it in the glove compartment of your car," he said. "If you go up to one of their sites they'll take a picture of you for the folder. It's supposed to be an aid to first responders when they get on the scene."
LEPC member Chris Hoke discussed a driver safety class she recently attended. "It was amazing the tips I learned," she said. "I think everyone should take it."
Businesses and organizations present at the meeting included: Tyler County Commission; Tyler County OEM; Tyler County Sheriff's Department; Stone Energy; Tyler County Search and Rescue; Tyler County Community Emergency Response Team; Wetzel-Tyler Health Department; Middlebourne Volunteer Fire Department; Sistersville General Hospital; Triad Hunter; Tyler County BOE; Middlebourne EMS; Westcom Medical Command Communications; Tyler County Bus Garage; and Myers Funeral Home.
"It's great to have a group like this get together," said Cooper. "You guys cover a lot of (safety) areas."
Breakfast was sponsored by Stone Energy and prepared by the Sistersville Ladies Fire Auxiliary. Funds remaining from breakfast costs are donated to the Sistersville Volunteer Fire Department.
Cooper explained that they would like future sponsors for breakfast. The cost for the meal is $200 and can be written off as a donation.
Although LEPC meetings are generally held the first Thursday of every month, the next meeting will be held on Jan. 9, the second Thursday. To keep up with Tyler County OEM and LEPC events, visit tylerwv.net/blog.