HERMITAGE — A major disaster hasn’t hit Hermitage in recent years, but officials will be prepared just in case, thanks to the city’s emergency operations plan.
Developed by the Hermitage Fire Department, the plan gives city officials a guide for responding to any number of major disasters or emergencies, such as tornadoes, floods or fires, Hermitage fire Chief John Flynn said.
“What it really helps with is incident command, so that we don’t have multiple people in the same place asking for multiple resources. Instead, it’s funneled through one person at the command center,” Flynn said.
The updated emergency operations plan was unanimously adopted by the Hermitage Board of Commissioners at their meeting on Aug. 21, and must be updated every two years, Hermitage City Manager Gary Hinkson said.
Under the plan, an emergency operations center is designated to help manage a major emergency or disaster. City officials are assigned roles such as public information officer to talk to the media or as a finance director to handle purchases to establish a clear chain of command ahead of time, which Flynn said helps to deploy personnel and resources more efficiently.
That way if someone like Flynn were at the scene of an emergency and needed to request a particular piece of equipment, he could call in the request to someone at the emergency operations center, who would then handle securing the equipment.
“Then it’s on him to make those phone calls, or if there’s a cost with the equipment, he can just look at the finance person and say, 'Hey, I need approval for $1,000 because they need this equipment,'” Flynn said. “The EOP helps set up that command structure, and in a major incident, that’s a really big deal.”
Although he could not recall city officials having to enact their emergency operations plan, Flynn compared the plan to the standard operating procedures already in place with the fire department, which help determine which resources to use for different situations such as structure fires or vehicular accidents.
But unlike the fire department’s procedures, the emergency operations plan is intended for local officials as well as local organizations such as the school district or nursing homes, Flynn said.
“If say a tornado goes through, and a nursing facility needs to relocate all of their people, they can go to this emergency operating plan and call this nursing home or this nursing home because they can take up to this many patients. Or if they need to figure out how to transport these people, they could look at the Mercer County Shuttle system or McGonigle’s for example,” he said.