Is Emery County prepared for a disaster? That is exactly the question that the Local Emergency Planning Committee is trying to answer. The LEPC is made up of representatives from local agencies such as the Emery County Sheriff's Office, mayors of local communities, school board representative, neighborhood watch, health department, road department, water conservancy district and many others.
You might wonder what all of these organizations have in common. In the event of a disaster these agencies all need to coordinate and cooperate to facilitate an organized effective response to whatever situation arises.
Martin Wilson is a sergeant from the Emery County Sheriff's Office and is chairman of the LEPC committee. He recently named Jed Jensen as the co-chairman for the committee.
The committee meets monthly to coordinate efforts and address needs.
A the recent LEPC meeting, Sgt. Wilson called for a list of items on hand in each of the cities that would be available for use should an emergency situation arise. This inventory of items would include ambulances, heavy equipment- type and amount and other items.
Part of the planning procedure is the development of a list of hazards and a history of past emergencies to develop a current list and develop as part of the hazard plan. Identifying and prioritizing possible hazards such as earthquakes, flooding and others to identify those most likely to happen in Emery County and to prepare accordingly. The Association of Governments has listed hazards as a starting point for evaluation by the LEPC committee. Areas where flood plains have been identified and maps of such plains are in existence with the AOG and can be utilized in emergency planning. Planning ahead to remedy flood situations or at least being aware of where floods will occur is part of the process.
Daryl Wilcox, Elmo mayor, was also concerned about maps which show the power lines and gas transmission lines in the event of a disaster. He said these types of maps would be helpful to have on hand and in place in emergency response vehicles. His concern also was for other areas of the country which rely on the Emery County power plants for their power supply.
Jeff Adams from the AOG said that overlays of these transmission lines can be obtained from the various utility companies and can be used on geographic reference visual maps which they already have.
A part of the disaster plan should also include who is responsible for the costs associated with a hazardous chemical spill from trucking or railroad.
Terry Wright from the health department said that she will be working on a list of nurses, EMTs, firefighters and mental health workers who might be available to help in a disaster, even if they are not currently working in the medical field, but who are trained to do so.
Sgt. Wilson reported that as always they are looking for avenues of funding to increase the EMT skills of already practicing EMTs in the county.
Adams talked about the steps toward having a workable emergency plan. One step is to have a valuation of property in any given emergency situation and to be able to prioritize risk factors and situations. For example with a wildfire the priority could be low, but a wildfire near a subdivision of mountain homes becomes top priority for action. These risk factors would be identified and gauged by probability of its occurence in our area. A tornado for example would be listed as low risk and low priority, but a flood would be given much higher priority in the plan and appropriate action plans identified and implemented.
Each strategy for each hazard has goals, the goal in a flood situation would be to keep people from drowning. Human life is the first priority and property comes in second. Goals also include action plans for preventing flooding, such as shoring up a canal or other measures which would involve the road department and the water conservancy district. Funding to complete these goals also must be looked into.
Plans for what should be done in the event of a dam break will also be addressed in the plan and determining the flood zone for each of the dams. Mayor Wilcox also requested that plans for the surveying of the dams and data and information be kept as well as seismic analysis of the dams in the county.
There is an emergency preparedness fair in Carbon County on Oct. 9 at the St. Matthew's church beginning at 2 p.m. which should provide useful information for interested county residents.