The Benton County, MO Emergency Management Agency (BC MO EM) is constantly planning and preparing for natural disasters. We have information on our website, bcmoem.com, which we have collated for you, our residents, that we continuously update to help you in your efforts to prepare and protect yourselves and your families if any of these disasters should occur. We appreciate the members of our community who follow our website, Facebook page, Deputy Director Sam Henley’s Twitter (@ke0lmy), and other ways we communicate with you about these preparations, such as volunteering with the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Benton County, MO ARES, and BC MO CERT.
Unfortunately, there are also man-made disasters and emergencies we are prepared to respond to, at a moment’s notice. One of these is in the event of an active shooter in any of our schools. Because of this possibility, we train for such an event with first responders, schools, the Benton County 911, the volunteer organizations, and more to ensure that our protocols, timing, and the overall way we handle the situation are carefully considered, planned, and practiced to ensure our ability to help protect, provide for, and reunite students with their parents or guardians.
For the 2018 Benton County Active Shooter exercise, we had so many participants, both from the first responder side, as well as from the school system. NO STUDENTS WERE INVOLVED IN THE EXERCISE. A large number of faculty volunteered to stand in for the students and various other key players.
We’d like to take a moment to thank those departments we saw, though if we missed any, we will amend this posting as we gain a more thorough report.
Thank you to the Benton County 911, Benton County Health Department, Benton County Sheriff’s Office, Warsaw Missouri Police Department, Lincoln Missouri Police Department, Warsaw Lincoln Emergency Medical Service, Warsaw Fire Protection District, Deer Creek Fire Protection District, Benton County, MO Amateur Radio Emergency Service, Benton County, MO Community Emergency Response Team, and more!
We would like to thank Southside Commissioner Dale Estes, Jr. The BC MO EM can only be activated once we receive the order directly from a current commissioner and Commissioner Estes was key in our ability to activate for the exercise!
We would also like to take a moment to thank Christy Barber, Martha Foster, and Renee Cason for serving as the staff of the Emergency Operations Center. These volunteers did data entry, monitored radios, scribed hard copies of events, assisted with the pre-briefing dispensing of safety gear, and gave important feedback on the exercise, along with suggestions for improvement. We can not thank you enough for your service! Side note: we are always looking for volunteers to assist in the EMA. The best way to do this is to begin by volunteering with our local organizations like the BC MO CERT or BC ARES!
The BC MO EM maintains its office in the Benton County 911 building. This allows us to remain advised of activity on the scene but keeps us far enough away from the action to be helpful in the RECOVERY phase of incidents. During today’s exercise, contacts were made to the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Compass Health, area hospitals (for a bed count, so we would know where “victims” were sent), and more. We also used and monitored several computer systems which connected us to SEMA (Missouri State Emergency Management Agency) and area healthcare providers.
Overall, the exercise was a success! The school was able to test its plan; the first responders tested their protocols; the BC MO EM and Benton County 911 practiced their abilities. We all have some adjustments to make and discovered some areas in which we can improve which ensures we used the exercise to learn more about what we can do if such an unfortunate incident ever occurs in our county.
This is just one more way the BC MO EM works to live up to the “Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery” Mission Statement!
Below you will find an example of the type of graphic which will be released with official updates during future exercises and actual events (will not be labeled with “This is an exercise!”).
Twitter Post – You can follow your Deputy Director, Sam Henley, @ke0lmy