County steps up emergency planning
March 23, 2012
As Utah plans for the "Big Shakeout," an emergency preparation event taking place on April 17, the County Courthouse is also making sure they are equipped for any disaster that could happen.
The Summit County Council met with officials from the Summit County Health Department and consultant Chris Crowley to discuss where the community and government agencies can improve on their emergency preparedness plan.
Crowley said when he began working with Summit County, he discovered immediately that first responders and health agencies were well trained and prepared for most situations. It was Summit County employees who Crowley said had a deficit of emergency training.
"Because Summit County is so compact and Interstate 80 and U.S. 40 run through here all the agencies work really well together," he said. "But all government employees need to have the basic training of CPR and incident command skills. We need to define what everyone’s roles are in any sort of situation and have the agencies ready to share employees."
Summit County Manager Bob Jasper agreed with Crowley, saying that the emergency manager should not be chosen in the middle of an emergency and that everyone should be well aware of their roles prior to an incident.
Crowley said the county should also work on their emergency planning and inclusion. Summit County does have an automatic-aid agreement with Park City in the event of an emergency which was called a great step.
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"Clear and effective communication needs to take place between all the cities and outlying communities in Summit County, that is the biggest area to improve upon," Crowley said.
The health department tested its skills last week when a chemical leak was reported at the Park City Medical Clinic. The County Courthouse said it also put its emergency plans to use last spring when major flooding was reported in Coalville and Kamas.
Summit County Personnel Director Brian Bellamy said that the County worked well with the cities during the floods but the elected officials in the area are lacking a clear plan that is inline with the County’s.
Council member Sally Elliott said last year’s floods got people talking about what should be done in an emergency and increased cities trust in the County, but all the city council’s should still be included in a preparedness course.
The Summit County Health Department does have an emergency preparedness guide online and recommends that every household prepare in advance and have a plan ready. To view the guide visit hwww.summitcountyhealth.org/adults/emergency-preparedness.
Summit County will be activating its Emergency Operations Center in conjunction with Park City and the Park City Fire Department on April 17 as part of the ‘Big Shakeout."