Pease visits Hamilton; discusses EMS plans
George Pease, the Emergency Management Director of Caldwell County, attended the Hamilton board of aldermen meeting Wednesday to introduce himself to the city. He wants to activate in the county a system called the Civic Ready System, a citizen’s notification system which he described as a reverse 911. Participation will be voluntary, Pease said, but he is hoping to get 100% of cities on board, as it is a free system and will notify people day and night via text messaging, phone alert, email or phone calls of emergencies. This can also be used by cities to notify their employees by sending out private or group messages. Pease said he would like to have this system by the end of the summer, but he is waiting for the state to receive grant funds which have been approved but haven’t yet been released. For the first two years, Emergency Management will pay the bill for the system which is $4,500 per year for the entire county. He is hoping that when all cities realize the value of the system, they will participate and share the expense, so he will not have to apply for a grant every year, as grant money may not always be available.
The city water department uses a generator light tower from St. Joe when they have middle-of-the-night water main breaks. Pease said he had just procured one from the State Surplus Center in Jeff City and it now belongs to the county. Any department in the county can use it, the only thing he asks is that it goes out full and comes back full, and if a department damages it, they will be responsible for its repair. It is a diesel unit with 4 large flood lights and will run a long time on 30 gallons of fuel.
Pease is working on a federal disaster aid declaration for all the storm damage that has been done in the county. The pre-disaster assessments were completed with FEMA last week. This would only be for public facilities, he said. EM is working with all the fire departments in the county to try and enhance communications that are very poor on the fire department and the EMS side. The federal government has mandated a requirement that we all go to narrow band radio, which does not cover nearly as well as the older wide band system. He is looking at putting in a four corner repeater system in the county in the next 1-1/2 to 2 years, for which he has to apply for a grant. It will cost the county over $100,000 to put this in. He would like to use the new water tower in Hamilton for this new public service repeater. “It’s a high facility and gives us good coverage for all of northwest Caldwell County and it works out very well to put these types of repeaters on water towers,” he said. Pease discussed the importance of EM and Ham radio operators working hand in hand. An amateur radio operator is always first on the scene to get communications up and going out of the area. He also wants to install a VHS repeater to cover any communications throughout the county, and would like to put it on the water tower too. He said there is also an old cable company tower over by the water tower that is not being used that might work and he’s been trying to locate who owns that. He said the two antennas would not interfere with one another.
Pease is also involved with the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), which has mostly to do with HAZMAT. He said they used to have attendees at these meeting from the city of Hamilton and would like to encourage that again. They meet quarterly at the Nazarene Church in Kingston. It is a lunchtime meeting and the LEPC provides lunch. He said it’s not required for cities with a population under 3,000 to have their own emergency operation plan, but encourages Hamilton to have one nonetheless. Pease said there should be a memorandum of understanding written between EM and the city of Hamilton. He learned from the tornado that hit Hideaway Lakes just how unprepared the county was for a disaster, so he is trying to work with the cities and other departments in the county to think more about planning and get everybody working together as a team for these types of emergencies.