Archive for Thursday, August 24, 2006

Police ensuring officers’ protection

August 24, 2006

The Basehor police department is upgrading its training and equipment, little by little, in preparation for a biological or chemical attack.

Within the next two weeks, every law enforcement officers and firefighter in the county will be fitted for protective equipment to use during chemical, nuclear or biological incidents.

"We are going to have everybody suited, just in case something happens in the metro area," Basehor Police Chief Terry Horner said.

According to Chuck Magaha, Leavenworth County emergency management coordinator, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires that each person's mask be tested to ensure it fits properly.

In addition, Magaha said, the federal government has imposed an October deadline for all law enforcement and firefighters to have completed a some National Incident Management System classes.

NIMS provides guidelines and instructions for responders to follow so several jurisdictions can effectively work together during emergencies.

"Anybody that will be responding to an emergency will be required to meet certain criteria," Magaha said.

The most basic class -- IS-700 (Independent Study) -- is just one in the NIMS process, Magaha said. The purpose of that class is to ensure everybody is speaking the same language and understanding the roles one might assume in an emergency.

Horner invited all city departments, including elected officials, to two different IS-700 classes conducted in May at city hall.

Detective Lloyd Martley taught the four hour classes, which ended in a test electronically submitted to Homeland Security by each participant. Horner said a written notice was sent back to the department a few weeks later indicating whether employees passed or failed.

"We have at least 95 percent of city employees, including the mayor, that have passed the class," Horner said.

Magaha will also conduct an IS-700 class from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday at Basehor-Linwood High School. Anybody emergency responder who has not completed the class can attend.

Other NIMS classes include IS-100, 200, 300 and 400. First responders must complete IS-100 along with IS-700 by the October deadline.

Any employees with rank need to be trained to at least the IS-200 level, Magaha said. Higher-ranking employees will also need to complete IS-300 and IS-400 by October 2007.

Magaha said a high number of employees in each jurisdiction must complete the required classes by the deadline in order to receive federal funding.

"If they do not make a good effort, they will not be eligible for funding," he said.

While Magaha and Horner said it has been challenging to bring all responders up to speed before the upcoming deadline, Horner said they are making a significant effort.

"The training is out there, so we're using it as much as possible," he said. "I wrote a directive that if you become an employee here, you must go through this training. If we don't stay on top of it, there is a chance the city will lose out on federal funding."

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