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Emergency system test scheduled in River Heights

March 4th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Tyson Thorpe

RIVER HEIGHTS–Councilwoman Kathryn Hadfield said Tuesday there will be a training exercise for the city’s emergency system on March 27.

The current system involves each home in the city having a two-sided emergency flag in their home. Once the emergency system has been activated, residents should place the flag on their front door, displaying the red side of the flag if they are in need of help and the green side if they are OK.

“Block captains are mostly information gatherers,” Hadfield said. Block captains will walk through their assigned neighborhood and look for red flags, she said.

“If the red flag is out, then I have to go in and assess the situation,” Gordon Herring, a block captain, said. The captains determine where needs are and then report to their area specialist.

If there is no flag on the door, then the block captain goes to the door to find out if anyone is home or if injuries prevent the flag being placed on the door, Hadfield said.

Each area in the city is made up of multiple blocks and is overseen by an area specialist, Hadfield said. Because the emergency system was started in conjunction with the LDS Church, each area coincides with an LDS ward.

Tom Winings was the high councilor in the LDS River Heights Stake over emergency preparedness, Hadfield said. Before her call to the city council, Winings organized the city’s emergency system using the layout of the LDS stake, Hadfield said.

Once block captains have reported the situation in their blocks to the area specialists, those specialists report the situation to Hadfield. Hadfield said city officials would then coordinate with the Cache County Sheriff’s Office and the Logan Fire Department to help those in need. If the disaster was widespread throughout Cache Valley, city officials would have to rely on local skills and equipment.

To increase the number of residents with emergency training and skills, Hadfield said she has been encouraging River Heights residents to complete Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT) training. Currently, there are only six CERT-trained residents in the city, Hadfield said. The CERT training helps citizens become better prepared to deal with emergency situations and to help in their communities in the aftermath of disasters, Hadfield said. The CERT program was developed to help people quickly and to save lives.

Both Hadfield and Herring believe that River Heights residents’ opinion of the emergency plan will change after the devastation that has occurred in Haiti and Chile.

“I think we’re going to see a lot more interest,” Herring said.

Hadfield said she worries about the readiness of the residents and the emergency system.

“I keep thinking ‘If that happened here, we would not be prepared’,” Hadfield said. However, she is working hard alongside the other members of the emergency system to get the system operating.

Hadfield said the training exercise on March 27 will be a good way to test if the emergency system is working. Preparations for the training exercise will also allow city officials to discover those households that no longer have emergency flags or have misplaced them.

“We have a good system in place,” Hadfield said. “We just need to tie up loose ends.”

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