MONTPELIER, Vt. -- With the 2012 hurricane season officially starting on June 1 and the effects of Tropical Storm Irene still visible in many areas of Vermont, federal, state, and local officials worked together this week to get ready for the next time a disaster strikes the state.
Community leaders from Richmond and Huntington took part in a two-day course offered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Red Cross on Community Mass Care and Emergency Assistance. Community agencies, public and private organizations, and businesses are trained to work together with emergency management and traditional mass care providers to provide services to those affected by a disaster.
The course in Richmond on May 23–24 was a pilot program. This is only the second time it has been held anywhere in the United States.
“This was an ideal location to pilot the Mass Care and Emergency Assistance training,” said FEMA’s Federal Coordinating Officer James N. (Nick) Russo. “Irene and last spring’s storms are still fresh in people’s minds and this is when it is easier to commit time to doing something that will have long-term effects.”
Across Vermont, every Secretary and Commissioner in state government went through special in-depth emergency training at Vermont Emergency Management (VEM) this week to prepare for the next emergency event.
“This training is part of our mission to build back stronger following Irene. Training for emergency response will help our state hone its response for the next big storm,” said Secretary of Administration Jeb Spaulding. “Our state employees performed with great skill and dedication during and after Tropical Storm Irene, and have learned many lessons from that experience. We know that success in an emergency depends upon being well prepared for the next event.”
VEM staff ran the executives through Incident Command basics, Emergency Operations Plans, and Continuity of Operations Planning among many other tenets of emergency response. The integration of all state agencies has long been an important part of Vermont’s emergency response, and those agencies have representatives at Vermont’s Emergency Operations Center during incidents.
In addition to government entities, individuals also need to take responsibility when damaging weather is moving in their direction. Families need to keep an eye on the sky and have an emergency kit and a plan for communicating with each other if they are separated in a storm. More information may be found at vem.vermont.gov/preparedness and www.ready.gov/.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders and to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.