Shea went over which classes were required for town officials to complete in order for the town to be compliant with the National Incident Management System (NIMS). According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website, NIMS acts as “a guide for departments and agencies at all levels of government, to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from effects of incidents, regardless of cause, size, location or complexity, in order to reduce the loss of life and property and harm to the environment.” Shea’s goal is to set up times for town officials to take the classes, which can take up to four days to complete.
Part of being NIMS compliant is the designation of a Red Cross shelter in town, and with Readsboro Central School already designated as a shelter, school board member Larry Hopkins said the school board would fill out an official Red Cross shelter facility survey by November 21. The survey is used as a tool to measure capacity, accessibility, and available materials.
Ten town officials are needed to take special training to become operators of the shelter. According to Shea, training town officials to open and manage the Red Cross shelter will free the town of liability, and would put the town in a position of self-sustainability until Red Cross officials could reach the town.
While school principal Michael Heller and selectboard chair Ray Eilers volunteered to participate, the group agreed to first find out the minimum number of those needed to participate in order to have a Red Cross official come to Readsboro for the training.
Selectboard member David Marchegiani suggested the town include support staff for town offices in their plan, as well as explore the option of using a reverse 911 network with two sources that would warn residents should there be a disaster.
Shea also said it would benefit the town to create a policy statement that creates mutual aid agreements and compliance with other towns’ departments of public works.
While he sees the benefit of having neighboring towns in the agreement, Shea also said it would be important to include towns farther away and in neighboring states, a sentiment reflected by Eilers. “We need to select towns out of the same area of danger we may be in. If we have a disaster, odds are Whitingham and Stamford may have the same amount of problems.”
The creation of a database that lists residents with specific needs was another idea. The database would be created on a voluntary basis by residents who want emergency responders to know what their specific needs are in case of an emergency. Shea says the list would enable those with, for example, limited mobility, specific health needs, or who rely on oxygen tanks, to get help faster.
Continuing to show progress in NIMS compliance is something that Shea says will bring increased help from FEMA in the future. This makes the process worthwhile according to fire chief Adam Codogni. “If this process and the classes help us get grants and new equipment, then it’s worth it.”