DAPHNE, Alabama — The Baldwin County Local Emergency Planning Committee held its quarterly meeting on Monday, June 17 in the conference room at Thomas Medical Center in Daphne.
An act of the State Legislature passed in 1986 requires that each county maintain an LEPC for the purposes of identifying companies that store and transport hazardous materials, provide oversight for the proper disposal of those materials and have an action plan in place should a disaster occur involving hazardous materials.
The committee is comprised of local first responders, representatives from hospitals and health agencies, volunteer organizations and members of the private sector. Lt. Kevin Carnley with the Foley Police Department currently serves as chairman for the group.
Meetings include committee reports, including a financial report, shelter report, medical health, law enforcement, fire services, industry and Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD).
During Monday’s meeting, committee members were introduced to Zach Hood, who was hired as the Baldwin County Emergency Management Agency director in April.
“In this area, when we think of disasters, we are focused on hurricanes and we should be,” Hood said. “But hurricanes are a seasonal threat. Dealing with hazardous materials is something that we should be focused on year-round.
“My philosophy has always been to take a proactive approach. The time to deal with a disaster is not when the threat is upon us, but to have a plan in place now so we are prepared with the disaster strikes. The only way we can be prepared for this type of disaster is for us all to work together. My goal with this group is that we have so many people involved that this room is not big enough to hold them all. I would encourage everyone in this room to invite someone to the next meeting and to keep doing that until everyone who needs to be involved becomes involved.”
Jenni Guerry, secretary/treasurer for the LEPC, said the group is currently working on updating its Hazardous Material Response Plan and training opportunities such as public information training with Dr. Joseph Trahan.
At Monday’s meeting the group voted to fund the training and, Guerry said, she hopes to present a proposal for dates and location of the training at the December meeting.
For a list of training opportunities go to the Baldwin County Commission’s website, baldwincountyal.gov, under Departments, go to Emergency Management Agency, then scroll down to EMA Training & Events.
Guest speaker for the June 17 meeting was Lenora Timmons, special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigations Victims Services Response Team at the Mobile Field Office, which covers 36 counties throughout the state.
Created as the Office of Victims Assistance following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the focus of the Victims Services Response Team is to provide assistance to local law enforcement and other agencies when there is a mass-casualty event such as a shooting.
The group provides assistance to victims, their families and to first responders and other agencies affected by a mass casualty event such as hospitals. Assistance is rotated among FBI field offices throughout the country with each field office providing assistance for a particular month. June is the Mobile Field Office’s month to provide assistance, Timmons said.
The next meeting of the Local Emergency Planning Committee, sponsored by the South Baldwin Regional Medical Center, will be held beginning at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Sept. 16 at the Foley Civic Center, 407 E. Laurel Ave. Meetings are open to the public.