PITTSBURG — It’s severe weather awareness week in Kansas, and Pittsburg has an emergency preparedness plan, training and technology on its side to help the community in an event of severe weather.
The city and county will take part in an Incident Command System training on Wednesday, which helps improve response efforts during and after an incident and it goes beyond severe weather.
More than just emergency responders will have this type of training. City and county leaders, administrators and staff who also play an important part of severe weather preparedness will be there to learn what responders need from each department — from communication to funds.
“This includes them in the process … they will learn what our needs are — we have to work together,” City of Pittsburg Fire Chief Mike Simons said.
Utility companies also play a part in safety, with communication plans they are able to deal with utility issues after a storm, he said.
It is also important for residents to let the county know when installing a storm shelter, Simons said. The shelter is logged into software from New World System Software, which dispatchers use to help responders get where they need to be, which could result in finding the shelters more quickly, Simons said.
The system also works for all incidents, not just weather he said.
“It’s a big game changer for us,” he said.
Included in the city’s emergency preparedness plan is Task Force 4, a state-deployable asset who are trained to respond to various disasters. They are also known as structural collapse technicians and there are about 18 in the Pittsburg Fire Department Simons said.
The task force was deployed to Eureka after a tornado, Houston after Hurricane Harvey and were on standby for Hurricane Erma.
The team utilizes various equipment and technology such as bracing equipment and GPS.
“It’s an all-hazard approach,” Simons said.
Simons said residents should watch for severe weather, be prepared and informed, such as sheltering in place and storing necessities. He said people can find severe weather safety tips at at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/
“Even if it is not a tornado, there can be loss of power,” he said. “Water bottles and snacks … these are some of the things that people need to be aware of this time of year.”
Another way to keep informed is to go to trainings such as the Severe Weather Spotter Training which is at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, at Memorial Auditorium and is free to the public. The training is hosted by Crawford County Emergency Management and PFD.
“It gives everybody training on severe weather we have during the springtime,” Crawford County Emergency Manager Jason Vanbecelaere said.
He said a Springfield National Weather Service meteorologist will share what they expect the forecast to be this season.
Included in this year’s weather spotter training is information on fire weather danger, a recent issue in the area because it has been so dry, Vanbecelaere said.
The training includes the explanation on what severe weather terms mean — including outlook, watch, advisory or warning and how to determine the different characteristics seen in storms and when to report based on these identifiers.
— Stephanie Potter is a staff writer at the Morning Sun. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @PittStephP and Instagram @stephanie_morningsun.