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Are we prepared for disasters?


By Lisa Brody
News Editor
...continued from page 2

Hardesty said the desire to force local counties to match federal grants could puts them in a tough spot.

"The difficulty of that here is that it's not just one community it's a consortium for law enforcement and training, which doesn't have the money to match because there's no funding base," he said. "Same thing for fire departments 43 different groups are sharing this equipment. How do you figure out who is paying for what? It will make it so that no one gets any equipment. It will make it so there is a decrease in acquiring equipment and resources for the county."

Currently, Oakland County Homeland Security is in the midst of grant funding for thwarting terrorist attacks.

The county was recently awarded money for the Integrated Emergency Management Course, which specifically trains first responders for coordinated and complex terrorist attacks. "It means that the federal government will support our sending a group of 70 to Emmitsburg, Maryland, to the Emergency Management Institute for training for four days with a wide ranging group of first responders law enforcement, fire, hospital workers, EMS, health officials, emergency managers in training and developing plans. The fifth day is a large exercise to test knowledge and identify gaps."

The state of Michigan also provides a lot of grant money to the county, as well as acting as a funnel for the federal grant awards.

"FEMA has specific books on tornadoes, floods, hazmat (hazardous materials) terror, severe weather situations, and they prescribe we look at every situation," said Kevin Schein, Oakland County emergency management coordinator. He said they have specific forms and checklists "for as many things as we can think of to prepare for."

"Everything is mitigation, preparation, response and recovery," said Birmingham Fire Chief John Connaughton, who is also the city's resident emergency manager coordinator. He said Birmingham chose to develop their own emergency plan in order to control actions from the ground, and in order to get funds back from the federal government for emergencies. "At the mitigation part, where you're trying to mitigate what damage can happen, it's at the federal, or even the state level, like a hacker getting into the power system. For a large power outage, like in Houston, boots have to go out on the ground. Each member of our emergency operations center has a role and one purpose. The 911 dispatch is responsible for warning the public, for example. If it's weather related, we can use sirens, cable TV, the city website, Twitter, Facebook and other social media."

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Tags: LONGFORM

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