POINT PLEASANT — Unfortunately, random, active shooter incidents have increased three fold since 2009 and this week, Mason County’s Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) got a crash course in how to protect themselves from this type of person.
The presentation look place at the LEPC’s end of year luncheon at Pleasant Valley Hospital this week. Leading the demonstration was Dave Robinson from the Talon Group in Ashland, Ky.
Robinson told those gathered most shooters choose “soft targets” such as shopping malls, movie theaters, etc. If a shooter appears, Robinson said the options are to run, hide or defend yourself. However, the key to surviving this type of incident is to be observant and orient yourself to your surroundings, he added. Robinson stressed “Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action.”
“If you don’t see the threat, you have already lost the argument,” Robinson said.
During the round table discussion, Diana Riddle from the Mason County Health Department reported her office is seeing sporadic incidents of influenza but this time last year was when “the flu” really began to spread. Riddle added flu shots are still available at the health department as are shots for pertussis.
Chuck Blake from Mason County Emergency Management spoke about the recent chemical leak from a tractor trailer which shut down U.S. 35 for a time. Blake said around 30,000 gallons of the chemical leaked out on to the ground. He said in those types of situations it’s important not to listen to the truck driver or company but to follow the emergency plan, and contacts, already in plan to handle the situation.
R.C. Faulk of Mason County 911 said required upgrades to the new phone system at the 911 center should be done by February with the equipment good for five years.
Karen Jones with Mason County EMS said as of this week, EMS had taken 7,673 calls so far this year and all the trucks were up and running. Blake said those numbers were about the same as last year but were up from five years ago when EMS answered around 5,000 calls annually.
Tony Jones, leader of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), said in a year, the local CERT team has grown to around 30 members and has received just under $10,000 in grants. A free class to train those interested in becoming a team member which assists in responding during disasters, will be held in January with time and date to be announced. Jones will also be holding a search and rescue class for local firefighters and emergency personnel on Jan. 11, 2014. Jones also asked those gathered to spread the word about putting CERT on an annual donation list for businesses if possible. Members of the LEPC voted to give the CERT program a $200 donation to help with the classes and feeding those who attend.
Mason County Commissioner Rick Handley announced the county has received a $7,000 Claflin Foundation grant to purchase some new bulletproof vests for the Mason County Sheriff’s Department.
A representative from AEP’s Mountaineer Plant said three injection wells were being closed and in regards to this spoke briefly about the deregulation of utilities in Ohio. A representative from AEP Sporn said it has two units serving Ohio customers but would only be in business another 17 months. A spokesperson from AEP’s River Transportation Division said some assets had been moved after deregulation in Ohio but the river division should basically stay unaffected.
Rex Troy from Pleasant Valley Hospital said a mock disaster was to be held yesterday at the hospital for training purposes.
A representative from Prestera talked about the level two recovery home which will be placed in Mason County, saying a site has not been chosen yet. She also said next year Prestera will be moving its main offices to a new location to be announced.
A representative from Gallia County EMA spoke about mutual cooperation between Mason and Gallia counties and the importance of it.
Ann Dalton from the Mason County Action Group said she would provide Mason County EMA with a list of home bound seniors to check on in case of an emergency.
Visitors from the West Virginia Environmental Protection Agency were also in attendance to introduce themselves and say they were available to assist local first responders. The EPA visitors are also developing a county fact sheet for reference.
The next LEPC meeting will be in March 2014 with time and location to be announced.