The events of September 11, 2001 demonstrated the importance of prevention where terrorism is concerned. Following the attacks, the federal government created the Department of Homeland Security and many states, including Connecticut, followed suit. Hurricane Katrina reminded us that preparation and mitigation are also important factors in the homeland security/emergency management equation. All Americans now understand that future disasters, especially terrorist events using weapons of mass destruction (WMD), will be large in scale, long in duration, and complex in terms of the hazards presented (RAND Science and Technology Policy Institute Report of December 11, 2001).
In Connecticut, the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security was created to direct and coordinate all available resources to protect the life and property of the citizens of Connecticut in the event of a disaster or crisis, through a collaborative program of prevention, planning, preparedness, response, recovery, and public education.
Regionally, representatives of the Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG), the largest of Connecticut's fifteen regional planning organizations (the region covers 28 Towns, is approximately 800 square miles in size and houses approximately 1,050,000 people), recognized that the emergency responders for any municipality would be quickly overwhelmed during a large disaster and that it would be some time before federal and state agencies could assist.
With this focus in mind, CRCOG established the Capitol Region Emergency Planning Committee (CREPC) to serve as one of the four major committees under the Public Safety Council. The mission of CREPC is to enhance the operational readiness of the member governments in handling hazardous materials incidents and all types of emergency incidents. Additionally, CREPC is responsible for developing hazardous materials emergency plans as well as overall emergency response plans for the capitol region.
The Regional Emergency Deployment Plan (RED Plan) is a compilation of dedicated work by many expert officials. The purpose of the Regional Emergency Deployment Plan (RED Plan) is to provide a framework for CREPC member communities and agencies to collaborate in planning, communication, information sharing, and coordination activities before, during, or after a regional emergency. Locally, the RED Plan has moved forward in becoming institutionalized in the region, the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) has made a significant impact on the ability to protect first responders and citizens and to handle a major mass casualty incident (MCI). The capitol region Citizen Corps Council (CCC) has established programs and formed Citizen Emergency Response Teams (CERT) in numerous municipalities within the region. Regional assets were used to establish the Capitol Region Hazardous Materials Response Team and Regional Incident Dispatch (RID) teams.
The RED Plan is being tested and updated on a regular basis and a lexicon has been developed that allows all regional players to communicate with a much higher level of certainty and effectiveness. The regional lexicon is consistent with the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the National Response Plan (NRP). The Regional Integrated Communication System (RICS) provides the platform for effective use of resources during any emergency or incident.
In Farmington, the Emergency Management Director is the Chief of Police, Paul J. Melanson. The Director of Fire & Rescue Services, Mary-Ellen Harper, is the Assistant Emergency Management Director. The Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) was compiled with input from the Town Manager's Office, Police Department, Fire Department, Public Works Department, Finance Department, Community & Recreational Services Department, School Department and the Farmington Valley Health Department. The EOP not only describes the roles and duties of Town resources, but it also outlines the concept of managing and coordinating large-scale emergency operations. The main goals are to establish plans and procedures for the operation of the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), to establish provisions for obtaining, analyzing, and reporting operational information to support decision-making in the EOC and to establish communications and coordination with adjacent local governments and the State government.
The plan consists of a number of annexes that include: Direction & Control, Communications, Warning, Emergency Public Information, Evacuation, Shelter/Mass Care, Health & Medical, Resource Management, Situation Reporting, Joint Federal/State/Local Preliminary Damage Assessment, Hazardous Materials Emergency Response, Terrorism & Weapons of Mass Destruction. The plan is reviewed annually by Town staff and changes or modifications are forwarded to the CT Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.
Farmington first responders, department heads and EOC personnel are trained in the National Incident Management System (NIMS) which provides a consistent, nationwide approach for Federal, State and local governments to work effectively and efficiently together to prepare for, respond to, and recover from domestics incidents, regardless of cause, size or complexity. It is recognized that the initial responsibility for managing domestic incidents generally falls on State and local authorities. The Federal Government will assist State and local authorities when their resources are overwhelmed, or when Federal interests are involved.
Farmington residents are urged to educate themselves on emergency preparedness by visiting the links within this web site. The Town's"Home Guide to Emergency Preparedness" is the first step you should take in this endeavor. Your safety will depend on being alert, knowing what to do, when to stay in your home and when to go to a shelter, what to do with your family pet, and how to get up-to-date information on the emergency.
There are many emergencies that can impact Farmington. The most common are winter storms, power outages, flooding and hazardous materials incidents. Every emergency including very serious ones, such as terrorist acts and plane crashes, involve the same basic planning for your protection. The Guide provides information on what actions will be taken by Town officials to ensure your safety. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the guide so you can start preparing your family for an emergency should one come.