Citizens trained to assist with emergency medical delivery as well as crowd control techniques will be part of the major crisis response plan to be crafted under a council created by Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.
Falk this week issued written invitations to county leaders to serve as the Dane County Citizen Corps Council and to provide oversight of initiatives all aimed at creating a volunteer network to provide the extra help needed when a big crisis occurs. (A copy of the letter and requested membership list is attached.)
The first meeting of this oversight council is slated for August 4, 10:30 a.m. Public Safety Building, Room 2107, 115 West Doty St. in Madison.
“This corps of trained citizens will be ready to partner with our professional emergency leaders to provide a quick, effective response in the event of a disaster,” Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk said. “But this is not just disaster related. This group also will be trained to help when large-scale community events are planned – such as Rhythm and Booms.”
The county netted a $53,000 federal Homeland Security grant in March 2006. Falk heard first-hand from the Houston County Executive who said the citizen corps there helped enormously with hurricane evacuees in the AstroDome.
“These dollars will be used for several initiatives where trained citizens helping professional emergency workers could mean the difference between life and death, or between minor and serious injuries,” Falk said.
The grant was awarded to the Dane County to work on several key initiatives with the state and city of Madison’s emergency personnel. One is the creation of the Medical Reserve Corps, which will use trained volunteers during local emergencies and as part of a regional response. Falk also said the medical corps likely also will coordinate with their counterpart corps in Milwaukee County to bolster a local and regional response to large-scale events.
The Medical Reserve Corps will work toward a November 2006 deadline to have their plan in hand to recruit volunteers.
Two more initiatives involve Volunteers in Police Services Program to train volunteers in law enforcement functions. These will be two separate efforts – one for the Madison Police Department and the other for the Dane County Sheriff’s Office. “Volunteers in these two programs will be able to assist with things such as search and rescue and fingerprinting, and also as ambassadors during public education events,” she said, adding plans for both programs are under way and working toward a November 2006 goal to be under way.
The last initiative involves establishing a dog disaster team – also known as a K-9 unit. The dogs in these units are trained to find victims in rubble, storm debris as well as water, among other scenarios. Once created, the Dane County-based Disaster K-9 Team will be the first Federal Emergency Management Agency-certified unit in Wisconsin. “The concern was the closest K-9 search units are in Missouri and Indiana,” Falk said. “And that is just too far when you’re talking about the best chance for victim survival.”
The deadline to get the K-9 disaster unit planning under way also is by November.
Falk said the council expects to meet once per month after the August kickoff meeting.
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