PARKERSBURG - Wood County commissioners gave the Local Emergency Planning Committee the go-ahead to pursue a $5,000 Hazardous Material and Emergency Management Performance Grant through the state/Homeland Security.
"Each year we are eligible to apply for this grant. We are going to apply for $5,000 total, with $3,500 to have JH Consulting do a followup on a drill we did last year at Ohio Valley University and Vienna. The followup will look to see if we have improved. They had pointed out several shortfalls in the after action report, which has been sent to you. It's a public document, and notes what happened and improvements that could be made. In addition, one of the proposals Ed Hupp, (emergency services director) will have is for funds to update the county's emergency operations plan, which hasn't been updated since it was first written in 1999," said Doug Hess, LEPC chairman.
"That update will cost about $7,000. Ed was going to come to you, the county commission, for that additional funding. But since we only need $3,500, we were going to apply the extra $1,500, if the state approves, to that cause if the county commission chooses to hire the consultant to do a comprehensive upgrade of the that plan," Hess said.
"This is permission for the chairman to fill out the application and have Ed Hupp sign it as well. I did communicate with Toni Tiano (county grant coordinator) and I have an email from her stating that it appears to be an eligible project. The application is due in Charleston on Friday," Hess said.
An after action report on the full scale drill conducted in 2010 was done by JH Consulting of Buckhannon on behalf of the Wood County LEPC.
"The plan is to hire the same firm to conduct a tabletop drill as a followup to see if any corrective action has taken place since the last one," Hess said.
Wood County Local Emergency Planning Committee will apply to the state for an emergency planning grant.
Part of the grant funding would be used to update Wood County's Emergency Operations Plan, which LEPC officials said hasn't been updated since 1999.
The original exercise was in May at Ohio Valley University and Vienna Elementary School. The exercise involved multiple potentially hazardous situations including detonation of an explosive device, fire involving a hazardous substance and a simulation of someone entering a disaster shelter with a explosive device. A number of problems were cited with the exercise, including the need to maximize existing communication systems; modify existing resource management protocols and review the process by which public information is released. Other problems noted included weather and not all emergency entities being able to participate in the drill.
The commissioners unanimously gave Hess the go-ahead to apply for the grant.
"There are new requirements now for the emergency plan including four drills a year instead of one, and the changes have to be made or they won't approve the EMG grant, which I understand is a substantial amount of money that comes back to this county," Hess said.
"Those drills are expensive. It seems like it might be a burden on you all to have to do more," Commissioner Wayne Dunn noted.
"The state doesn't worry about the cost involved when they make these additional requirements, as you well know. Everyone has to have drills, but there does need to be a better coordinated effort with everyone together. It's been different drills, but there hasn't really been an effort to pool resources. All the drills don't have to be full-scale, some can be tabletop, but there really needs to be a coordinated effort between all the entities, that would reduce the cost. But the first thing is the emergency operations plan needs updated. It hasn't been updated through, what is it four directors now, since 1999," Hess said.
"The new drill requirement would start next year," Hess noted.