The Nodaway County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) met for its yearly training with a focus on severe weather preparedness.

The committee consists of representatives from Maryville Public Safety, Nodaway County Sheriff’s Department, University Police, St. Francis Hospital and the Nodaway County Ambulance Department. It was hosted at the public safety facility and ran by Administration Secretary Christi Forney.

The Missouri Emergency Response Commission (MERC) requires LEPCs from across the state to hold yearly trainings and for these sessions to include a focus on a hazmat component. Once completed, the LEPC is eligible to receive funding from the MERC. The hazmat element for this year’s training was chlorine.

Training centered around  the entire group discussing various scenarios which could impact the county and what proper actions would be required to solve the issue. Three modules at the center of the discussion were: public information and warning; communications with the public and other agencies; and interagency cooperation and the knowledge of resources provided by those agencies.

“Learning what agencies can do is vital know when we have to put things in action,” Forney said. “For instance we learned how quickly St. Francis can get patients out of the building in an emergency if need be and we were shocked at how fast it was. These types of things are vital to know now and not on the day of an emergency.”

Forney said these scenarios are typically designed for the LEPC to fail. Commonly the goal is to force local agencies to require more and more assistance from other agencies in the LEPC, as well ask for help from outside agencies. While scenarios are designed to push the limits of the agencies, Forney said all scenarios are realistic possibilities that could be faced in Nodaway County.

Following the two-hour training, the group sat around and discussed its strengths and weakness. Forney said not many weakness were found, but the agencies should continue to learn about what each is capable of to be fully prepared for all emergencies.

As far as strengths, Forney noted familiarity between the agencies has led to exemplary inter-agency communication. Overall she said these trainings are vital and it is not just because of the training that takes place.

“The main reason is not necessarily content but maintaining those relationships,” Forney said. “It’s important for us to all stay connected and stay on top of what the other agencies are doing. It also just gives that face-to-face time. We’ve all been together here a long time in Nodaway County and we have some fun and we’re able to sit around and see this is really serious but still joke and talk our way through it.”