What are Local Planners Doing to Prepare?
Homeland Security and Border Patrol are on the news frequently discussing what they are doing to combat terrorism but how many people are aware that a multitude of planning is going on at the local level? The local select boards, city councils, EMS, fire, rescue and law enforcement worked together before 911 and the chemical incident in Bhopal, India. These efforts were ramped up after 911 and again when there was concern for Pandemic Flu.
What you didn’t see in the last 4 years was Hospitals, National Guard, CDC, Health Departments, Universities, Schools, American Red Cross, media and many other partnerships working together to plan for the H1N5 Avian Flu that turned out to be H1N1 Swine Flu. Because of this planning and collaboration between agencies, clinic plans were in place, memorandums of understanding between groups and vital partnerships were formed.
One of the groups that were engaged in the planning process was the Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC). LECPs exist all over the United States. The committees consist of local first responders, emergency managers, public health officials, State and Local elected officials, ews media, EMS, hospital, Red Cross, Border guards, businesses and concerned citizens.
History of the LEPCs
IN 1986, The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) enacted as Title III of the Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act (SARA). This was in response to the Bhopal incident in India that killed 2,000 people when a hazardous chemical was released. The EPCRA established State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) to mobilize government officials, citizens and businesses. In turn, the SERC was charged with establishing Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs).
The Mission of the LEPCs
The mission of the LEPCs is to provide resources and guidance to the community through education, coordination and assistance in all hazard mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery planning to assure public health and safety. Although members may be first responders, LEPCs as a whole do not function as responders. The committee’s goal should be to identify resources, share information, catalog potential hazards and predict disasters in their geographical location.
Training for LEPCs
The LEPC conducts training sessions that are meant to improve community readiness for response to actual emergencies, identify procedural and policy inadequacies, identify inter-agency roles and responsibilities, identify resource needs, improve the effectiveness of training, improve emergency plans, procedures and actions and to build public support for emergency planning and awareness.
LEPCs identify chemical hazards, develop and maintain emergency plans and encourage chemical safety, reduction of risk and accident prevention in communities. Because members of the LEPC are local, they know the area, the people and are able to communicate effectively with their partners.
Local Community and State Information can be found on the following website:
Each state is listed with information about how to contact your local emergency planners. This site will give you the name, address and phone numbers as well as common weather risks in each state.
To help you understand better how disaster planning works for people with special needs, see the following articles:
Coping with a Disaster
Medical Alert Jewelry
Nursing Home Preparedness