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LEPC discusses the data benefits

By Staff | Feb 13, 2013

BARGE-TRACKING SYSTEM READY FOR USE--Tyler County Emergency Management Director Tom Cooper presents the new barge-tracking system acquired by the Sistersville Volunteer Fire Department.

Methods for improving Tyler County databases and resources for dispatchers and emergency responders were emphasized at the Feb. 7 Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) meeting.

The State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) made $1,250 available for the Hazardous Materials Emergency Preparedness (HMEP) program. Such funds are collected from shipment fees for the movement of hazardous materials and are then distributed to LEPCs throughout the state for HazMat planning and training.

LEPC will use this funding to pay REPS Inc. for the construction of a safe and secure information system to be used by Emergency Management and first responders. According to Tyler County Emergency Management Director Tom Cooper, this is just the first installment to the program, which may be used statewide if successful.

The LEPC received an additional $786 from remaining SERC funds. They voted unanimously to use that, with an additional $214, to add local gas and oil well information to Critical Possessions (CriPos), a database developed by REPS Inc., in order to provide quick information on nearly any chemical handled in the area.

In related news, the Sistersville Volunteer Fire Department now possesses a barge-tracking system. It will provide information on vessels large enough to be registered and list the chemicals they are hauling.

The group also discussed adding a list of details on Tyler County’s critical infrastructure to the CriPos system. “Critical infrastructure” is a broad term used by governments to describe essential assets for the continued function of a society and community, such as bridges, lakes, dams, post offices, courthouses, employers, banks and small businesses. Along with details like electrical systems, windows and potential hazards, the database will ideally store photographs of these structures to help emergency responders be better prepared.

“If they have an iPad in the car, they can take a look at it,” said Cooper, noting the importance of information to the safety of responders.

“It will have maps and pictures that give firemen and law enforcement the ability to see all four sides of a structure.”

Mentioning that they are on the fourth year of this five-year project, he described the database as something to be used strictly by dispatchers and responders.

Another matter discussed was the attaining of shelter supplies in preparation for Homeland Security training March 21, in which people will be trained to operate local shelters in emergency situations.

Cooper reported that, based on his shelter experience as a result of the summer storms, he was able to find and correct some procedural flaws. These changes will be tested during March training.