MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County Emergency Management Agency Executive Board met for its first meeting of 2010 on Thursday afternoon. Board members discussed some of the changes the office has undergone in the past year, including a new director and deputy director, and new levels of accountability within the office.
Emily Marth, Knox County safety and loss/human resources director, met with the board in executive session to discuss the interviews she conducted for a performance review of Brian Hess, Knox County EMA director.
Board Chairman Allen Stockberger characterized the comments collected by Marth as being generally positive regarding Hess’ performance in the job he was formally appointed to last May.
The members of the executive board will read over the comments obtained by Marth and add their own evaluations, which will be discussed at the May EMA executive board meeting.
Once the board exited executive session, Hess presented an outline of the 2010 budget, with projected expenditures totaling $120,495.
Deputy Director Matt Sturgeon said an additional $47,506.71 in state grant money, which has been approved but not yet certified, will be added to that total. He said additional money could also be added as more state dollars are certified.
Hess told the board he is working to bring gas and oil pipeline training to the county soon.
“This would address real-life emergencies that could come up in Knox County because of the number of gas and oil wells in the area,” he explained.
He said some fire departments have already expressed interest in the training, which will be open to municipal personnel and first responders. The training is conducted by Ohio Oil and Gas in Granville and will take place in Wooster.
Sturgeon and Hess said they would like to continue to introduce new training opportunities to the county, facilitated through the EMA office.
Hess said Mike Cronin, Mount Vernon Fire Department emergency medical services coordinator, recently met with him to request that training in conducting special stress debriefing following traumatic incidents be made available to county first responders.
“I think that’s something that’s very valid that would have good benefits for the county,” Hess told the board. “We’re going to bring even more courses to the county to hopefully expand the knowledge base; courses that will be useful to the county.”
Hess told the board the three new computers purchased for the office will aid in many office functions, including bill paying and accounting, and on-scene documentation at hazmat emergencies.
He asked the board to begin looking toward purchasing a second response vehicle for the agency, enabling the director and deputy director to respond to emergencies quickly. It is hoped grant money will be available to help with funds.
“I’ve started looking for funding sources which would ease the burden on local taxpayers,” Sturgeon said.
Hess and Sturgeon have been selected to facilitate a 16-county exercise to be conducted in Holmes County later this year. Hess told the board the selection is a complement to Knox County EMA, recognizing Knox County at a state level for its successful disaster exercises.
Board member Claude Gates asked Hess and Sturgeon if a list could be compiled for townships to share resources in an emergency. Each township could list how many backhoes, plows, generators, etc., would be available to share during a disaster.
“That way you would know what each township had available so you wouldn’t have to rent in an emergency and you could reach a lot faster,” said Gates, a Harrison township trustee.
Sturgeon praised the idea, telling the board members he would look into compiling such a list.
Hess and Sturgeon will soon be inspecting facilities which house hazardous materials in the county. Each facility is required to list the materials with the Local Emergency Planning Committee.
“We are going to start going to each facility to verify that what they give us in the reports is what’s actually on scene,” Hess said.
He said the inspections will begin immediately.