I am delighted to be taking on the responsibility of serving as the Town Board liaison to the Community Preparedness Committee. I am looking forward to supporting the work of its chair, Suzanne Kavic, and to working with the Town Hall staff, and Chief Ferry in particular, to improve our town’s emergency response plan and resiliency.
On Tuesday January 30th, I attended a New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) Emergency Management Certification and Training certificate program for local public officials, first responder leadership and other partners. Two officers from the Town of New Castle Police Department also attended this half-day training.
The focus of this training was on the State’s emergency management framework and how we, locally, can request support and resources during an emergency. The training included the message that all disasters start and end locally. During the training we learned about some of trends in emergency management that the Town should consider as it revises its emergency response plan:
- Citizen Preparedness: There is an increasing focus throughout the State on making sure residents are prepared to shelter in place during an emergency. This includes knowledge sharing about things like having a weeks’ worth of water and medications on hand. Citizen preparedness and neighborhood response will be a key focus of the town’s Community Preparedness Committee
- Communications and Social Media: As we all know, social media can be a powerful resource to help with situational awareness (knowing where the problems are in order to be able to allocate resources), as well as providing information to the public about an incident. On the other hand, towns need to verify information received through social media and contain the spread of misinformation. A Public Information Officer (PIO) workshop will be held in April and I am hoping the Town will be able to send a representative to this session.
- Vulnerable Populations and Special Needs: Local governments throughout the State are increasingly focused on ensuring that their emergency response plans account for the unique needs of vulnerable populations. This will be another important topic for our Community Preparedness Committee and our Town to tackle, particularly as it relates to identifying these residents and developing a neighborhood-based plan to provide help.
If you are interested in joining the committee, please feel free to reach out to me (email@example.com) or to Town Administrator Jill Shapiro.