Board sets priorities for emergency staff
by Margo Avakian
Mar 28, 2013 | 1899 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
HALIFAX- The selectboard met with new emergency management co-directors Ross Barnett and John LaFlamme Tuesday evening to discuss the transition and clarify its priorities for the immediate future. LaFlamme told board chair Edee Edwards that he has already received his pager and copy of the current emergency plan from Vermont Emergency Management; Barnett is scheduled to receive his on Thursday. EMDs, LaFlamme said, are encouraged to use the pagers for personal communications as well as official ones, making it more likely that they will be carrying the devices at all times. “The pager has full coverage in areas where there is no cell coverage,” LaFlamme assured Edwards.

Board member Earl Holtz told Barnett and LaFlamme what Incident Command System training courses he has taken and asked them to let him know if they think he, as a selectman, needs to take more and if so, which ones. Linda Lyon, an active volunteer with extensive emergency operations experience, asked the co-directors to relay information on available trainings to the Halifax Emergency Medical Service. Barnett promised to do so. Lyon also urged the EMDs to call on interested volunteers to assist them in any tasks where more heads and hands would be of use.

Edwards gave the directors the schedule for the Local Emergency Planning Committee meetings run by the Windham Regional Commission and reminded them that they are expected to report to the selectboard as a body, not to individual board members. She urged them to consult with the board if they encountered any difficulties in establishing a division of their labors.

LaFlamme said he and Barnett have had several discussions on that subject already and anticipate no problems in working effectively together. The co-directors will meet on a regular quarterly basis with the board, with extra meetings scheduled as needed. LaFlamme’s suggestion that the directors submit their quarterly reports to the board in advance of the regular meetings was welcomed by the members.

Priorities for the next three months, Edwards said, include “getting up to speed” with the radiological plan, updating the basic emergency operations plan by the June 1, 2013 deadline, and ensuring that the computer and printer needed in upcoming Vermont Yankee drills are fully operational and “ready to go when we walk in.”

LaFlamme suggested holding local training prior to the Yankee drills. “Richard Cogliano, Vermont Emergency Management training coordinator, has offered to come down and help out with that,” LaFlamme said.

Further down the pike, the directors will be working on plans to modify or relocate the emergency operations center and reviewing the “Lessons Learned” document that emerged from the town’s experience with Tropical Storm Irene.

Holtz asked for feedback on the steps the board has already taken in response to that document. “Let us know if you think we’ve done things right,” he said.

The board and the EMDs also went over details of the position description, email communications, and access to DisasterLAN, a statewide disaster management tool. LAN stands for local area network.

In other business, the board briefly discussed the upcoming April 1 meeting with the Whitingham Selectboard and area emergency services regarding the fate of the Whitingham Ambulance Service.

Edwards wants to make clear that Halifax’s concern is that an effective, adequately staffed ambulance service is available; Halifax has no interest in acquiring physical equipment. Barnett expressed reluctance to get involved in a situation replete with money, politics, and dueling lawyers, but did suggest that the town consider signing longer contracts with whatever ambulance services are ultimately chosen to cover the area. One-year contracts, Barnett said, make it hard to plan ahead; three- to five-year contracts would be better. Board members agreed that the suggestion is reasonable and said they would seriously consider it.

The board also voted to send a letter to the US Postal Service requesting a refund for the undelivered town reports and ratified a decision made at Tuesday morning’s emergency meeting to send a letter to Sullivan, Powers and Co. regarding the FEMA-mandated audit.

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