OEM Headquarters Is Prepared for Disaster
Tom Cooper, Director of the Tyler County Office of Emergency Management, occupies storage and office space in the Paden City Industrial Park through a lease agreement with the Tyler County Commmission and the Paden City Development Authority.
On a recent visit to the site, Cooper gave a detailed description of the equipment and supplies his office currently manages. Inside the building, located on the South end of the Industrial Park, is approximately 40,000 square feet of space available to the OEM. Cooper, along with county volunteers and LEPC members, have an array of emergency equipment to their disposal.
“Everything here is for the citizens of Tyler County. We have search and rescue equipment, emergency supplies, temporary shelters, communication devices, bottled water, first aid equipment, trailers set up for disasters, and much more. However, everything here is available, not only for the local people, but anyone in the state who may need assistance,” Cooper said.
“We work for you, but we also partner with industry, business and response agencies. We partner with healthcare facilities. We have emergency shelter for 72 people, including special needs and pets.”
To say the amount of equipment, -which also includes at least 15 trailers, all which are full of supplies and materials in case of disasters – is impressive would be an understatement.
Cooper and a handful of volunteers have put together a treasure of life-saving equipment. There is anything from communication devices to generators powerful enough to power the city of Paden City if needed. Two huge generators, portable lighting, and training equipment for search and rescue dogs are located in the warehouse.
One trailer, which is known as the command center, houses several computers and weather forecasting machinces hooked into the National Weather Service. These centers include radios, televisions, and meeting rooms, along with outside electrical outlets for the generators to run the trailer in rural areas.
Also in the storage area is a trailer with several smaller generators for emergency use and two water rescue boats, one which is state-of-the-art and another which has been in use for around 19 years.
“Most everything we have here has been purchased with grant money. We work directly with Homeland Security, and we have strong support from our county commissioners,” added Cooper. “Alot of what we do and what you see is a direct result of our relationship with other counties and respect we have with them and for them. We are partners with many different emergency response agencies, and we try to keep good relationships with them all. Everything that we have here is at the disposal of any agency who needs our help.”
Cooper also gave a brief tour of his office space, which includes phone lines computers, monitors, and way too much to list. Cooper, who formerly worked in local industry, said he recognizes the needs of industry, and he recognizes there are ways they can help the communities in which they are located. He pointed out, as an example, two fork lift trucks which he said were donated by a local plant. According to Cooper, the OEM has had a need for both of them, and currently one is on loan to another facility. He said one was used to lift water and food a couple years ago when power was out in the county due to a major storm.
While speaking about the two boats, Cooper said they are set up for the dogs that are trained to find bodies in water. He showed where the dogs sit and how they can move from the front of the boats, along the side, sniffing the water for scents. He said the small boat was actually used to locate a body in the Ohio River, with the assistance of one of the dogs provided by trainers and owners who partner with Tyler County. He said some are even members of the Tyler County LEPC.
Tom Cooper, director of the Tyler County OEM, can be reached at his office in Paden City via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org