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Feb. 27, 2012

Area Communities Test Emergency Plans in Tabletop Exercises

Several communities throughout Oswego County tested their plans to deal with a major ice storm during two exercises recently hosted by the Oswego County Emergency Management Office.

"Our local municipalities can handle many major winter storms on their own by putting resources in place early and working together," Emergency Management Office Director Patricia Egan said. "This exercise encouraged them to test their local plans and see what changes they may need to consider."

During the discussion-based exercises, local government and emergency response personnel from 18 individual municipalities discussed how they would respond to a county-wide disaster using their Comprehensive Emergency Management Plans (CEMPs). They discussed how officials would be notified and what steps they would need to follow to take care of infrastructure and human needs until power could be restored and roads cleared.

Comprehensive Emergency Management Plans outline how local governments will respond to a community-wide emergency or disaster, establishing notification chains and listing resources that are readily available or can be accessed through local agreements. "It's important each community have a CEMP," Egan said. "It will help them take care of their needs more effectively in any emergency."

The cities of Fulton and Oswego, towns of Granby and Oswego, and the Town of Schroeppel/Village of Phoenix tested their plans at the Granby Community Center on Jan. 18. The following week at the Parish Village Gym, the towns of Amboy and Palermo, Town of Sandy Creek/Villages of Sandy Creek and Lacona, Town of Parish/Village of Parish, Town of Hannibal/Village of Hannibal, and Town of Hastings/Village of Central Square had the opportunity to discuss how they would deal with the same emergency. Representatives of the Town of Boylston, which is half-way through the process of creating a plan, observed the Parish exercise.

Emergency Management Office Director Egan led both exercises. Facilitators included Sara Upfold-Harrell, Katie Yurkon and Terry Bennett of Emergency Management; deputy county fire coordinators Al Heath and Bob Loomis; Oswego County Emergency Communicators/RACES officers John Darling and Judy LaMay; Mike Sterio, Oswego County BOCES; and New York State Office of Emergency Management Region IV staff Chuck Wright and Ron Raymond.

Each municipality brought local elected officials and representatives of emergency response agencies, including fire, emergency medical services, and law enforcement. "The partnerships of these agencies in each community are critical to the success of these plans," Director Egan said. "Each agency brings resources and ideas to the table. Each agency is vested in ensuring life safety and protecting property during emergencies and disasters."

Of the 34 municipalities in the county, Egan said, 29 have comprehensive emergency management plans approved by their governing councils. The Town of Boylston's plan is being developed and should be in place by summer. "We encourage any municipality that hasn't developed a plan to contact us," she said.

More information is available by contacting the Emergency Management Office at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, 315/591-9150 or eganp@oswegocounty.com.


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