Severe weather outbreaks are again headlining news reports with devastating results in Arkansas and Mississippi this past week. How prepared are families in our community and how prepared are the emergency response teams in our area? The Enon Eagle spent some time with Enon/Mad River Township Fire and EMS Chief Tracy Young to find out more about how residents should be preparing for a major weather event.
Mad River Township installed several tornado early warning sirens around the community last year. We asked Chief Young who activates the siren system. The National Weather Service activates the sirens when severe weather is indicated for the area according to Young. The sirens are an early warning system designed basically for anyone involved in outdoor activities. Some homes close to the siren locations may benefit from the alert while inside but residents should not depend on the sirens to alert them if they are inside with doors and windows closed.
Chief Young suggested that all area residents can sign up for the hyper-reach system. This early warning system will send an alert to your home or cell phone in the form of a voicemail or text message. You can easily activate your numbers by visiting the department’s web site at http://www.madriverfireandems.com and clicking on the “links” tab at the top of the page. The hyper-links web site is the second one down on the page. You simply fill in the form with your information and you are done in minutes.
The Eagle asked Chief Young what local residents can do to prepare for a possible tornado outbreak. The links page of the department also has information from FEMA regarding tornado safety and preparation. Young gave a few tips for residents in our area. He suggested that one needs to be aware of the weather reports provided by local television stations. Meteorologists monitor radar and keep viewers informed of the path of severe storms. “Maintain awareness” said Young. If you are outside, pay attention to the sky and seek shelter if threatening conditions arise. Chief Young stated that he is willing to work with any group or organization who would like to prepare a plan for severe weather such as sports teams, churches and other groups that host events during severe the weather season.
Many homes in our area are not equipped with basements. Chief Young suggested finding the most reinforced area of your home in which to take shelter. A closet is suggested, a room or locations in the center of the home away from windows are options.
Should a tornado impact our area, we wanted to know what action our local first responders would implement. Chief Young explained that the department takes a proactive response to the threat of severe weather. Crews are assembled at the station and remain there until the storm has passed. Should a damaging storm impact the community, a preliminary response is begun to survey damage. If needed, the department would put out a call for mutual aide and Clark County would implement their emergency response plan.
In regards to what families should do if disaster strikes. Chief Young stated that the first thing is to be sure that you and all members of your family are safe. Then call 911 and tell the dispatcher what is going on around you providing details on the damage that you see. Your personal safety is “paramount” said Young. The chief noted that sturdy shoes and long pants should be worn if possible. Shorts and flip flops can be very dangerous when dealing with broken glass, nails, screws, metal and other building materials at disaster scenes. Storm survivors need to be aware of down wires, gas leaking and other dangers if they elect to begin looking for neighbors in surrounding damaged homes.
When asked about the local emergency dispatchers for our departments, Chief Young stated that they are equipped with the ability to move them to the fire house where they can dispatch crews. He noted that the dispatchers are trained for such an emergency situation and work in teams to take calls and dispatch units to the scene.
A reminder for all local residents, the Enon/ Mad River Township Fire and EMS dispatchers can be reached by calling their direct line at 864-1994. The County 911 Sheriff dispatch system will also forward your call to local dispatchers in an emergency. You can program this number into your cell phone for use in case of an emergency when phone lines are down. They know this community and have a proven record of fast responses and remaining on the line with callers providing support until crews arrive.