County model for state

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff
ljenkins@starhq.com

  
Leaders of local emergency organizations gathered on Tuesday to listen and learn from three guest speakers during a Local Emergency Planning Committee meeting.
   Guest speakers were Shane Allen, environmental specialist with Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation; John Sterling, regional director of the Tennessee Department of Homeland Security, and Dr. Robert Acuff, Quillen College of Medicine.
   Sterling had positive things to say about Carter County and other counties in the 1st District of Tennessee concerning efforts being taken to prevent terrorism.
   "This district is a model for other parts of the state," Sterling said. He added that counties are working together so well that other areas now consider the 1st District a model for multi-county planning.
   Surrounding counties have worked together to offer services in case of terrorist attacks. For instance, Carter County has resources for a mobile command post which can be used by other counties when necessary.
   Jackson said this is helpful because counties can share emergency services such as SWAT teams, bomb dogs, and decontamination units.
   This kind of cooperation also allows counties to get more specific grant money in the area in which they specialize. A Regional Planning Committee decides how the grant money will be distributed.
   "This allows us to use what little money we get and use it wisely," Jackson said. "It will take mutual aid and apply it when the need arises."
   Allen told members of the committee and local emergency leaders the status of assessing water utilities in the city and county. According to Emergency Management Agency Director Earnest Jackson, four utility locations -- Elizabethton, 1st District, Hampton and South Elizabethton -- are exploring the option of increased security.
   Allen presented an overview of the statewide assessment and, with Sterling, encouraged the use of surveillance cameras, additional fencing and volunteers trained to report activity around the area.
   Acuff brought the committee up to date on studies being conducted at Quillen College of Medicine and training for doctors that enables them to provide first response care in case of a bioterrorism attack.
   In other business, Bob Robinson stepped down from his position as chairman and Bradley Moffitt, city finance director, was elected to serve along with General Harvey Tester as co-chairman.