Tim Leeds Havre Daily News email@example.com
The Local Emergency Planning Committee met Tuesday to continue to plan to plan what to do in case of a major emergency. LEPC Chair Tim Hodges said one key will be determining where officials would meet in case of an emergency. “If a larger event occurs, everyone should know we have to go to a specific location. We have to have everybody at the same point,” he said. Hodges said he was concerned that the City of Havre and the Hill County government seem to be moving in different directions. The LEPC used to meet at the emergency operations room in the Havre City Hall, then started meeting at the Hill County Detention Center. If an emergency occurs, Hodges said, he hopes there won’t be a conflict between city and county procedures. “I would hope we move into this in the future, we find ways to make this better,” he said. “ We don’t want to be dealing with it at the time of a disaster.” Hill County Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator Ron Knudson said the reason the meetings have been held at the detention center is one of accessibility: the center is handicapped accessible while the city operations center, in the basement, is not. Hill County Commission Chair Mike Anderson said the room the LEPC is Meeting at in the detention center is being upgraded and could act as an operations center. He said the room now has wireless Internet capability and increased telephone hookups. He said it could be used by the county as an emergency operations center while the city could use its center. “Which kind of creates a problem,” he added, because the officials would then be separated. Hodges said he wants to make the issue a high-priority, highly publicized agenda item for future meetings of the LEPC, to hear public input about it. Knudson said another place to coordinate actions is in the plans different organizations have in case of an emergency. Groups that could be involved in dealing with a disaster include the Hill and Blaine county governments, the city of Havre, Montana State University- Northern, Havre High School, Northern Montana Hospital, and Rocky Boy’s and the Fort Belknap Indian reservations, he said. “There are quite a few people involved,” Knudson said. Hodges, who works for Hill County Electric Cooperative and Triangle Telephone Cooperative, said the electric cooperative has completed a disaster plan about 100 pages long and Triangle is working on its plan. He said each organization or government that has a plan completed should bring several copies that could be distributed so everyone can look at, compare and possibly get ideas from the plans. In other discussions, the LEPC talked about a scheduled drill to simulate an influenza pandemic in the area. Knudson said the drill is scheduled for Aug. 22, in which the local officials and health department would run an exercise to assess how they would be able to handle an actual influenza crisis. A state-level official will act as a facilitator, and Knudson asked that members of the LEPC also attend to evaluate the exercise.