Streamline - Summer 2012 - (Page 15)

Emergency Communications DURING AN EMERGENCY BY KENNY REYNOLDS, VRWA WATER CIRCUIT RIDER I Emergency communications involve checking all necessary equipment, charging batteries, having extra emergency batteries available, and distributing equipment to appropriate staff. disaster, one of the first problems faced is the lack of being able to communicate with other responders and organizations. Often this problem can be minimized prior to a disaster by effective emergency management planning. All water and wastewater utilities should have completed their vulnerability assessments and emergency response plans. These plans should be reviewed and updated annually to keep the information current. Along with updating this information, we should make sure all our employees know what to do in an emergency and are familiar with our emergency response plans. Local governments are considered the first line of defense against emergencies and the employees of Public Works are now considered emergency responders. This makes us primarily responsible for managing the response to emergencies and disasters. Local government is responsible for responding to the event in a way that will warn citizens, yet ensure public order and security. This also means regular communications to update your citizens on the status of the event. These updates should be basic information, with details only if necessary. During any emergency event, all communications should be thoroughly documented. Prior to potential emergency events, fill fuel tanks for generators, exercise generators under load, and identify other fuel vendors in case your primary vendor becomes unable to deliver. Having backup power will not only help run pumps and equipment, but can be valuable in aiding emergency communications. Make sure you communicate with your staff, and place essential employees on alert. Emergency communications involve checking all necessary equipment, charging batteries, having extra emergency batteries available and distributing equipment to appropriate staff. Be prepared to provide information to the public and media. Have prepared advisory notices, such as water conservation or boil water notices, readily available. Talk about employee safety prior to the event, and encourage employees to make arrangements for family members. Water and wastewater utilities should look at all possible means of communications in their emergency response planning. When telephones (landline or cellular) and utility radios fail to work in an emergency, (How do you communicate)? 15 Communications begin by involving our employees in our emergency response plan development and having them involved in training and during emergency exercises. When communicating outside the utility during an emergency, these communications should be handled by one competent individual. This should be someone from the utility or local government management, a public information officer, or in some cases, a spokesperson from Incident Command. Having someone who has experience in communicating with the media during stressful situations will prove to be a valuable asset for your utility. Utilities should build positive relationships with the media and involve them in emergency training exercises. These relationships will prove valuable during emergency situations and aid in the correct information being communicated to our customers. The three primary categories of causes for communication failures during disasters are physical destruction of network components, disruption in supporting network infrastructure, and network congestion. For example, during severe weather events there may be damage to infrastructure that causes the loss of power, telephone (land line and cellular) and radio communications. Often during emergency situations the telephone equipment that isn’t damaged may become overwhelmed and congested and you may not be able to make necessary calls. The three main consequences of telecommunications’ breakdown in a disaster are the paralysis of official response, a containment challenge, and the delay of mobilization of broader relief efforts. These consequences will have a catastrophic effect on the processes of response and recovery.

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Streamline - Summer 2012

From the President
From the Executive Director
Summer Conservation Considerations
Emergency Communications
Asset Management
Southampton County: A Story of Progress
Board Members Quiz
Conference 2012 Highlights
The Town of Lebanon-One Small Step for Man
Drakes Branch Distribution System Upgrade
A Proper Rate-Virginia RATES Program
Missing Water Found
Wastewater Math
Throwing My Loop
eLearning Benefits
Membership Application
Do You Know What Your VRWA Benefits Are?
VRWA Mailbag
Welcome New Members
Training Calendar
Board of Directors
VRWA Committees
Index to Advertisers/

Streamline - Summer 2012