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Region 21 officials attend ICS training in Bridgeport


More than 30 city and county government officials and administrators attended incident command system training earlier this week, with nearly two-thirds of attendees representing Region 21 Emergency Management.

Incident command system, or ICS, gives a standardized approach to the command, control, and coordination of emergency response. It provides a common hierarchy which assists in making response from multiple agencies effective.

“During a disaster, everybody needs to know their job,” Ron Leal, Director of Region 21 Emergency Management, said. “The more training we do, the better off we’re going to be.”

Tuesday’s training, conducted at the Prairie Winds Community Center in Bridgeport, covered ICS for executives and senior officials. Todd Manns with Blue Cell Inc. was the instructor for the four-hour class.

Topics covered included a description of ICS and the various ways it can be applied, terminology, basic organization, issues that influence incident complexity and the differences between on-incident ICS organizations and the activities accomplished by area commands, emergency operation centers (EOC) and multi-agency coordination systems.

“It was a class to get all of us into one group so we can get to know the ICS system,” Leal said. “So senior staff knows what to do in a disaster. Tornados, flood, hazardous material spills, anything to activate an EOC.”

Leal said of the 31 attendees for the training, 17 came from counties under Region 21.

“We were well represented,” he said. “This was opened up to the whole panhandle region, to Region 21, 22 and 23.”

Region 21 Emergency Management serves Cheyenne, Morrill, Garden and Deuel counties. Attending from Cheyenne County was county assessor Louella Pippitt.

Leal said while the plan remains the same under ICS, the scope changes depending on the severity of the emergency.

“With hazardous materials, you’re looking at mass evacuations,” he said. “Tornados, it’s victim response to get people to safety. But everything, from beginning to end, the disaster starts locally and end locally. The stuff in the middle, whether we need to bring in state resources, just depends on how intense the disaster is.”

Leal said without ICS and having a hierarchy in command, managing emergencies can quickly devolve into chaos.

“And that’s why I’m trying to get everybody trained,” he said. “So we all understand each other’s roles.”

Leal said he used ICS during a flooding incident in the area of Big Springs in Deuel County in 2012.

“It was county-wide,” he said. “We worked with county officials, village officials, law enforcement, fire, all of the schools involved and the public. They were phenomenal down there. Everybody worked together, and that was all ICS.”

Because mutual aid amongst counties can happen at any time, Leal said its important they are all on the same page.

“If we’re all on the same page, and we all understand the ICS system, then we can all work together a lot better,” he said.

Leal said for officials and administrators who were unable to attend the training, he will give them the information and materials he received.

“That way, everybody can be on common ground across the board,” he said.


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