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Pulaski County, Ky., Moving Forward with EOC Facility Plans

In the fall, the Pulaski Fire Commission set aside $160,000 toward building a facility. A "functional EOC" has been established at the local 911 dispatch center while officials look for a location and additional funding.

by Janie Slaven, Commonwealth Journal, Somerset, Ky. / December 6, 2019

(TNS) — Plans to establish an emergency operations center (EOC) for Pulaski County are moving forward.

An EOC is a central command facility responsible for coordinating multiple agencies (local, state and federal) in the event of a natural or manmade disasters, disease outbreaks, or other public emergencies.

Back in the fall, the Pulaski Fire Commission set aside $160,000 toward building a facility. A "functional EOC" has been established at the local 911 dispatch center while officials look for a location as well as additional funding, according to SRT Chief Doug Baker, who chairs the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) which met Wednesday morning.

"It's definitely started now," Baker said, adding that the temporary setup at Pulaski 911 will be useful especially now that winter is upon us. "It's been an effort from a lot of people, and I want all of them to know we appreciate it, but it is going to become a reality."

To that end, LEPC training coordinator Bengie Howard of the Somerset Fire Department reported a Basic EOC Functions class conducted by Kentucky Emergency Management is being planned for next month at the Hal Rogers Fire Training Center not only for first responders but also government officials.

"They're the ones that are actually making a lot of the decisions," Baker explained, adding that due to space constraints each agency would most likely be limited to one representative who could then in turn bring the information back to their respective departments.

Other trainings in the works involve pipeline and rail safety. Howard also encouraged any businesses in the area interested in having a "tabletop" simulated emergency response exercise to contact him. Baker added that he would like to see local industry become more involved on the committee as well and is working with SPEDA (Somerset Pulaski Economic Development Authority) to bridge that gap.

According to Baker, LEPCs were established nationwide through the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) to increase public awareness and preparedness regarding hazardous materials. Currently Somerset has the largest volume of rail traffic involving hazardous material statewide -- an average of 13 Norfolk-Southern trains daily each with a string of at least 14 tanker cars in a row carrying crude oil or chemicals. He added later that Somerset-Pulaski County is home to 12 facilities that deal with chemicals and other hazardous substances.

LEPC meets quarterly with the next meeting tentatively scheduled for March 11 at 10 a.m.

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©2019 the Commonwealth Journal (Somerset, Ky.)

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