Emergency responders debut new emergency strategy

Fortunately the weather cleared by noon for a safe and successful event.<p>Two departments within the city of Hillsboro and two from Marion County worked together in carrying out an emergency safety plan, which was just in time for the Arts and Crafts Fair on Saturday.

Hillsboro Police Chief Dan Kinning said it was the first time a plan like this was put into action involving Hillsboro’s law enforcement and fire departments, and Marion County’s EMS and emergency management

“With so many people in town for the Arts and Crafts Fair on Saturday,” Kinning said, “we wanted to ensure the safety of our visitors, as well as the citizens in Hillsboro.”

The emergency safety plan provided a guideline on what each of the agencies would do and how they would react to an urgent situation, he said.

“We all wrote our own safety plan itinerary, and each of us had maps, evacuation routes, where the barricades were located, and even where the restrooms were,” he explained. “It was also the first time all the agencies kept a log for planning purposes next year.”

Kinning said planning is vital to the success of community emergency preparedness, and it was something that the city needed to do for quite awhile.

“Not only does having an emergency safety plan help us meet FEMA requirements, but technically for any event over 5,000 people, we should have this in place,” he said.

In addition to meeting FEMA requirements, he said this was also the first time every department kept a log so they can plan for what kind of calls they could receive next year.

Planning, he said, is a process which needs to be examined and discussed about its continued development and performance skills achieved through training, drills, exercises and critiques.

“If nothing else, this was a walk through (rehearsal) of what is going to happen if we have an emergency of any kind,” Kinning said. “If we have a tornado, we have an emergency command center with all the same kind of guidelines.”

The command center for the Arts and Crafts fair was set up at the police department and monitored by the Peabody Fire Department assistant chief, he said.

“I want to give Randy Frank (director, Marion County emergency management), who set this up and put (the plans) together,” he said.

Steve Rose, Peabody assistant fire chief, said he thought the plan went smooth­ly.

Rose said his post was in the command center, which was located in the Hillsboro Police Department building.

“We did have a little girl who was separated from her mother and she reported to the Hillsboro fire department’s booth at the fair,” he said.

“In turn, (fire personnel) contacted the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce (booth) asking for the girl’s mother to go there.”

Rose said he is also no stranger to emergency preparedness after taking classes and participating in the same type of plan that took place Saturday in Hillsboro.

Hillsboro Fire Chief Ben Steketee echoed Rose’s perspective.

“My role was to manage any fire emergencies, and this year I had welcome help,” Steketee said. “Durham Fire Department sent their Ranger (fire ATV) along with the fire chief (Tim Koehn) and a firefighter,.

“Peabody Fire sent a pumper and brush truck along with two firefighters, and Lincolnville sent a firefighter to help with any fire emergencies that may come up during the fair,” he added. “Those guys also helped me with fire extinguisher inspections in the morning.”

Rose of Peabody Fire stepped up and filled in the Incident Command position since Randy Frank’s injury limited his participation. Arts & Crafts Fair visitors in Hillsboro were warned about the possibility of storms and high winds moving in around 10:30 a.m.

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