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Vernon 'Moving Forward' With Preparedness, Emergency Management Director Said

Regular table-top drills and enhanced communications are being discussed.

A scene from the August mass casualty exercise at RHS. Photo Credit: Chris Dehnel
A scene from the August mass casualty exercise at RHS. Photo Credit: Chris Dehnel

So it's a year after Newtown and six months after Vernon hosted its own mass casualty drill. 

What is the town doing to move forward? 

A lot, Emergency Management Director Michael Purcaro said on Monday.

Purcaro broke down a couple of short-term goals as part of a briefing in the wake of an after-action report on an August disaster exercise in town. 

"The exercise was a success but there were also lessons learned," he said. "Now, we want to stay head of the curve."

Purcaro said one goal is to strengthen "a very robust communications system in the town of Vernon."

Currently, school staff members are able to communicate with a digital radio system, something the after-action report pointed out. Purcaro said he would like to not only train first-responders and school staffers to use a common channel on the network more, but add data streaming capabilities to show the exact scenario to those coming onto an emergency scene. 

He used the example of a fire at a school. Data from the school's camera system can be delivered to laptops in police cruisers and fire vehicles - or delivered to the incident commander on a laptop. 

"Eyes inside the building could transmit the real-world scenario to dispatch and even into cruisers and fire apparatus so first-responders have the exact picture of what is transpiring when they arrive on scene," Purcaro said. 

Purcaro added that state grant money can provide funding for such endeavors. 

He said another major disaster drill is not on the schedule, but regular meetings between town officials are. 

The idea was posed by School Resource Officer Steve Langlais as part of after-action discussions following the drill, according to Purcaro. At first, it was an idea for school officials and Purcaro said the idea is now to include "key department heads" along with school officials.

The meetings would work out "table-top" scenarios that the town could experience. 

State grants would also fund the initiatives. 

"We do no thane to have a major exercise to have valuable lessons learned," Purcaro said. "Just getting key decision-making people in a room is equally as valuable."

He said the table-top exercises would supplement the fire and lockdown drills already practiced in the schools. 

Purcaro added the table-top exercises could take place quarterly. 

For more on the after-action report, click on: 

http://vernon.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/afteraction-report-deems-august-disaster-drill-a-su... 

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