Columbia County fire departments got a surprise last week.
A representative from each department - Martinez, Leah, Appling, Winfield, Harlem and Grovetown - received equipment that will allow each department to set up a command post in the event of an emergency.
The equipment, purchased with a $6,309 Georgia Emergency Management Agency grant, includes a command-post flag, bullhorn, dry-erase board and marker kit, safety vests for the incident commander and fire-department personnel, and a green command-post light.
"GEMA give us a little money every year, it's not a whole lot, but it's a little money to help us in some areas with our hazardous-materials program," said Pam Tucker, Columbia County's Emergency Management Agency director. "So we are looking at where we needed most to spend this money. When we have done hazmat exercises in the past, incident command systems always come up as something."
The equipment was purchased to enhance the county's hazardous material incident response capabilities. Tucker said the need for more equipment to improve command-post capabilities for on-scene coordination of emergency response agencies was identified in previous hazardous-material incident exercises including one last October.
"The green light is hard to see in the daytime," said Lt. Wayne Kent of the Grovetown Department of Public Safety, who was incident commander at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant exercises last October. "We were using the green light because (it) denotes that is the incident command post. The flag is going to help out by being able to see it in the daytime."
Kent said the bullhorn will be a valuable addition because it will enable commanders to give orders to or gain attention of other responders at a scene, where running equipment or other loud sounds may hinder communication.
Tucker hopes this equipment, which can be used in other areas in emergency-response agencies, will help continue cooperation between agencies when operating at a scene.
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