Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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May 12, 2013

Could it happen here? Emergency, industrial watchdogs await West report


Corsicana — Making plans

The Office of Emergency Management has a series of action plans for tornadoes, chemical spills, terrorist attacks, radioactive contamination, train derailments, explosions and more.

“The city and the county have an all hazards plan that covers everything from natural disasters to terrorism,” Meyers said. “We have site-specific plans for each facility. We work with the facilities to identify hazards. They have to have facility responses so if an incident occurs we know before going in what we’re facing.”

Not all the vulnerable sites in the county sit out in the open. Gas and petroleum pipelines criss-cross the county just beneath the landscape’s surface like an underground highway system.

“Out in the county, it’s pipeline and petroleum companies,” Meyers said. “We find them very receptive as well.”

VFD responses

It’s also a matter of keeping the volunteer fire departments in the loop, both in training and risk awareness, Meyers said. Since West, there’s been more focus on fertilizer plants, and on volunteer fire departments. Like Eldorado, the volunteers don’t know if they should be doing something different, either.

“I think this is a two-way street. It’s not just the facilities, but also the public safety agencies knowing what they should do when they get on the scene,” Meyers said.

Like Corsicana’s fire department, the responders out in the county have reams of plans. But how they respond is dictated as much by the early information they get, McMullan said.

They rely on the first 9-1-1 call, and the first emergency responders on the scene to do a kind of triage. That first assessment will decide whether to make a stand and fight the fire, or to move back and evacuate.

“That first engine and officer is going to make the determination,” McMullan said. “He determines whether it’s going to be a defensive or offensive mode.”

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