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County officials gather for emergency management training

January 28, 2016
By Jimmy McCarthy (editorial@westfieldrepublican.com) , Westfield Republican

MAYVILLE - From extreme weather to hazmat dangers, a swift and coordinated disaster response is a critical piece to the safety of Chautauqua County's communities.

On Jan. 21, local leaders, fire and law enforcement officials gathered for an emergency management training program hosted by the county's Office of Emergency Services. The purpose of the training, presented by the New York State Office of Emergency Management, was to bring local government officials and partnering agencies on the same page to plan, respond and coordinate for emergencies.

"The integration of common information with all players from local, county and state (branches) is key so we're much more synchronized and coordinated when it's time to response," said Doug Winner, state office of emergency management director for Western New York. "Without that platform to operate from, you're going to lack the basic understanding needed to effectively deal with a disaster."

The training examined the roles and responsibilities of each government branch in allocating resources and responding to major disasters. Local jurisdictions were encouraged to develop a hazard profile during the session to better prepare for disasters.

"Individually by jurisdiction, you could sit down and develop your own hazard profile, and it may differ from others in the county just based on geography and in some cases demographics," Winner said. "The bottom line is how we respond, communicate and address hazards prior to or during a response are going to be relatively the same."

Julius Leone, emergency services director, said the training gives decision makers the tools to act on an array of situations and declare a disaster. At the same time, Leone said leaders are given the background and knowledge on how state law affects a local community.

"Someone who's elected mayor or town supervisor has a lot of power. How they channel those decisions is very important up front," he said. "They're legally the first person to make those decisions. Any kind of information we can give them so they have the right tools to make a decision is what it's about."

Leone said communication with state partners is strong during any extreme event, most recently the snowstorm that closed a portion of the New York thruway. Leone said state officials began to act as weather predictions formulated by moving equipment from the eastern part of the state to the area.

"They communicate with us and pre-position equipment here. If we need anything, it's a telephone call away," Leone said. "Communication and support is excellent. In my opinion, it's the best it's every been."

 
 
 

 

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