COMMISSIONERS TO ADDRESS EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS

COMMISSIONERS TO ADDRESS EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS

What: Public Information Session regarding Emergency Preparedness

Who: Interested individuals from the public and members of the press

When: Friday, May 10, 2013, at 11 a.m.

Where: County Commission Chambers, Doña Ana County Government Center, 845 N. Motel Blvd, Las Cruces, NM 88007

In the aftermath of the tragic fire and explosion in West, Texas, emergency preparedness has been a topic of conversation and concern for many residents of Doña Ana County. I’ve personally been asked whether such a disaster could happen in any of our communities and, if such an accident were to occur, what could be done to minimize the loss of life and damage to property. Commissioner Hancock of District 4 has encountered similar questions.

The purpose of the information session on May 10, 2013, is to describe the types and likelihood of potential disasters in Doña Ana County and to provide information about emergency preparedness for those threats. Specific attention will be focused on the Local Emergency Planning Committee, the Office of Emergency Management, and the All-Hazards Mitigation Plan. Communications, community awareness, and emergency preparedness at all levels will be stressed.

With these functions in mind, Commissioner Hancock and I will suggest a number of actions we believe will improve emergency preparedness in the county. These include: quicker notification protocols regarding the presence of hazardous materials, attention to posting of hazmat signage, inclusion of community notification measures in emergency planning -- especially for businesses that store hazardous materials, and participation of local business and industrial entities in development of community action plans. Additional measures include coordination of emergency planning with local first responders, with an emphasis on emergency provisions by code-enforcement officers, and insuring that training of first responders includes hazmat awareness.

We are also suggesting that every community, business, neighborhood, family, and organization take the time to put together an emergency action plan. Such a plan doesn’t need to be complicated or technical. In fact, it is largely a matter of information and common sense.

The local Office of Emergency Management Assistance is available to help with this effort. The people in this office are also responsible for large-scale emergency planning exercises that prepare all levels of government for action in the event of natural or man-made disasters.

Each year, the Board of Commissioners proclaims the month of September as Preparedness Month. It is our hope that come next September, our annual proclamation will be able to recognize that emergency preparedness in Doña Ana County is unequaled in New Mexico.

Commissioner Hancock and I will begin the information session with a few comments. Doña Ana County Fire Marshal Robert Monsivaiz and Office of Emergency Management Supervisor David Almaguer will follow with presentations about their respective programs. The remainder of the time is set aside for suggestions, comments, and questions.

We hope to see you there.

-- District 1 Doña Ana County Commissioner Billy G. Garrett