EMAs plan for disasters at events

In the aftermath of the bombings at the Boston Marathon, the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (EMA) is asking that emergency responders statewide submit information on events planned in their jurisdictions.

“Everyone is kind of on edge again,” said Wapakoneta Fire Chief Kendall Krites, who serves as the chair of the Auglaize County Local Emergency Planning Committee. “Everyone’s sense of awareness is highly elevated.”

As part of that, Ohio EMA officials are asking for information on community events scheduled between May 1 and July 31, which at least 500 people are expected to attend.

Krites said as they gather information locally, they also are asking for help from area residents.

“There are a lot more of these events taking place in the community than we think about,” Krites said.

Auglaize County Health Department Emergency Response Coordinator Don Jump said many of the events which take place at the Auglaize County Fairgrounds fall into that category, as do many sporting events, festivals and parades.

Information that is received is to be compiled in a county database as well as forwarded to the state agency. Being collected is the name, date and place for events with more than 500 people expected in attendance, as well as contact information.

“With the possibility of critical incidents, they want to ramp up their sources,” Krites said of the state’s request for information on events with high attendance counts.

Auglaize County EMA Director Troy Anderson said after the bombings in Boston last month, state and local emergency responders want to make sure they know what is going on in their areas and what they may need if a disaster were to occur.

“A lot came out after Boston,” Anderson said. “In events where there could be mass populations, we need to look at what we would need to respond.”

With the information compiled, Anderson said if something were to go wrong during an event, they would have it for a reference point and it could be used to keep everyone in-the-know about what is upcoming in the county.

The information also helps in pre-planning, which Anderson already does for every large event and location in the county.

“Anything over 1,000 people we write plans for,” Anderson said. “Now we will be writing them up for 500 and up.”

Copies of those plans are given to agencies within an event or location’s jurisdiction and address communications, sheltering, evacuations, EMS and fire services, different types of emergencies and weather.

“We take a look at the building, the location and know the layout,” Anderson said. “We talk about where is the best place to shelter, how can EMS and fire access a site, where are electrical outlets. We try to plan for everything we can before something happens.”