Being Prepared for Bad Weather Means We Test More than Just Sirens

By Emily Kies, Emergency Management Coordinator, ekies@stcharlesil.gov

When severe weather strikes, many of us think about our families, homes and that patio table in the back yard. For those of us in the Emergency Management field, we think of that and so much more. It’s at that time that the training, drills and plans come into play to ensure that the City and its residents are safe. It’s the work behind the scenes that makes the few moments “on scene” run efficiently and effectively. For many individuals in the St. Charles Emergency Management Agency, this means putting in hours after a full-time job and other responsibilities.

RecePicture1ntly, the St. Charles EMA conducted a severe weather training drill that started at 7 p.m. and lasted into the evening. Severe weather can strike at any time, and an important component of any plan is the ability to test that plan in less than ideal circumstances. The St. Charles EMA did just that a recent Monday evening. They conducted a drill to test radio communications, Emergency Operations Center functions, resource requests and capacity building in weather spotting, traffic management and operational coordination.Picture2

New members were able to work alongside seasoned members in the Emergency Operations Center to     understand resource management, communications protocols and tracking requirements. There was also training on radar monitoring and coordination efforts with other departments, agencies, municipalities and the county.

A critical task in any operation is resource tracking and allocation. We receive requests from a variety of departments and need to manage both the needs of the department and the safety of the resources and staff in the field. This requires specific training and the opportunity to test these skills in exercises.

Another important skill is understanding traffic patterns, intersection design and the flow of vehicles. EMA members practice all of these skills in real life scenarios to identify needs in equipment and training. Securing a scene can be vastly different in the daytime versus an overcast evening with rain.