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Front Page » April 29, 2003 » Opinion » Preparedness makes sense
Published 4,110 days ago

Preparedness makes sense


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By KEN LARSON
Sun Advocate publisher

Although emergency preparedness has been an important part of many communities for years, America seems to be reaching new levels since 9-11.

Carbon county folks can remember the Willow Creek fire, which happened over a weekend in 2000, closing the canyon with threats of carbon dioxide and methane gases.

I was in a meeting recently when a county official commented that most citizens would be alarmed if they knew the types and quantities of chemicals that are carried by rail through our communities every night. It's no surprise that U.S. 6 has been referred to as one of the most dangerous highways in America and since it's a major highway between Denver and Salt Lake City, hundreds of semi trucks travel the highway, many carrying chemicals which could be harmful should they be spilled into the water supply.

I remember years ago when I was a reporter in northern Montana for a weekly newspaper. One evening in the early spring an Amtrak passenger train derailed sending two dozen people to the emergency room of the local hospital while leaving another 180 people stranded in the local high school gymnasium.

The local Red Cross was wonderful and brought a few blankets and several local churches pitched in with food and supplies. The hospital called in retired nurses to help the small staff tend to the patients. It was chaos and many passengers, particularly the elderly or very young were frightened. This was long before emergency preparedness was considered an important part of a community.

The past two weeks the Sun Advocate's web question asked if people felt more or less secure living in Emery and Carbon counties. Not surprising, almost 80 percent of the respondents said they felt more secure living here. But following 9-11 I am more concerned about locations that could be targeted. We may not have any large airports, waterways or skyscrapers within a 100 miles but we are home to three major power plants that produce electricity to thousands of homes throughout the west.

Disaster in Carbon county could be a reality and apathy is our greatest problem. Most people just don't want to think about a disaster and consequently have the opinion that it will never happen to us.

There are three separate committees in the community currently dealing with various aspects of handling emergencies. The hazard mitigation committee is dealing with prevention, while the home and neighborhood committee is dealing with preparedness. A Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is also training communities to mitigate disaster the first 72 hours following an incident where roads are damaged or communication disrupted.

Families can and do cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Over the next few months you are going to receive a lot of information about creating your family and neighborhood disaster plan. Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility.

As you read the information and begin taking your own steps find out what types of disasters are most likely to happen in this area. Learn about your communities warning signals and find out how to help elderly or disabled neighbors in an emergency. Cooperate with your workplace or school and find out if disaster plans are in place.

We can make a difference and now is the time.


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