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Scioto County Snapshot

Scioto County is an Appalachian designated county with a low tax base and high unemployment. There are 16 townships and 4 villages and the City of Portsmouth that make up the county. Scioto County Emergency Management Agency is organized under the Board of County Commissioners and provides EMA services to each jurisdiction at no cost to them.

Scioto County EMA works with the 21 jurisdictions as well as (16) township volunteer fire departments; (2) paid fire departments; (12) volunteer EMS departments; paid EMS departments; and (4) law enforcement agencies. Additionally, EMA coordinates on a day-to-day basis with county health departments and the hospital for a host of programs, including but not exclusive to terrorism planning and citizen corps, which includes medical reserve corps.

Scioto County lies at the convergence of the Ohio and Scioto Rivers. Our watershed area provides for a significant amount of floodplain. Floods are an annual occurrence. Scioto County has received 12 Presidential Disaster Declarations for Floods in the past 17 years. There have been Presidential Disaster Declarations received for winter storm events as well. In 1994, a 35-inch snowfall saw temperatures below zero for two weeks. Another was in 2003 for a 500-year ice storm event.

We have a volunteer resource capability locally in the Citizen Corps and its affiliated programs. These individuals have had advanced training that includes search and rescue and traffic control, as well as the regular CERT program training. Citizen Corps plays a role in our mass prophylaxis program planning and has already assisted in flu clinics and other emergency and government agency events. Scioto County Medical Reserve Corps was one of the first deployed to Katrina by FEMA. They are a very active organization here in Scioto County. The Scioto County LEPC is a multi functional group here, not just chemical planning oriented. They are the EMA Advisory Group and make up the Bio-terrorism Committee and the Terrorism Advisory Group. The membership meets often to discuss planning, response and grant requests.

Scioto County has benefitted greatly from the Homeland Security Grant Program. We have enabled our first responders to move into the 21st century, equipment wise. The equipment has already saved lives and assisted investigations and there has been no terrorist event to prove its worth. Many of these rural departments have no more than $20,000 to operate on all year long. Likewise with EMS. They have small levies that always get renewed but just donít provide enough moneys to update equipment frequently. EMA has Regional Response trailers for Decontamination and Mass Casualty. Additionally through the Urban Search and Rescue Region, Portsmouth Fire Department has a heavy rescue vehicle for regional use with commitment to help support the region.

One of the number one areas seen as vulnerable to terrorist attack was the Ohio River. Scioto County EMA has had the only boat purchased through Homeland Security. The Police and Fire boat works regularly with ODNR Watercraft Officers on securing the 45-mile of river frontage Scioto County has.

Our County Emergency Operations Plan includes annexes specific to Homeland Security, including: Threat Level Red, Animal Disease Control, Infectious Disease, Hazardous Materials, Radiological, Mass Casualty, Terrorism, as well as response specific annexes for fire, law enforcement, EMS and Emergency Public Information. The plan specifically references use of Citizen Corps and itís affiliate programs, and, regional plans and teams.

Scioto County has a MUGS Group- MARCS Radio Users Group- that represents all local and state agencies utilizing this interoperable means of communication. We have a direction and control frequency in each agency radio to talk during times of crisis or in non-emergency times. We are making greater steps toward total interoperability.

EMA has coordinated response and recovery to a wide range of emergency situations and events during the past 20-year period, including:

Hazardous Material Accidents and Spills;

  • Tornadoes;
  • High Wind Summer Storms;
  • Winter Storms;
  • Flash Flooding;
  • River Flooding;
  • Plane Crashes;
  • KKK Rally;
  • Plane Crashes;
  • Prison Riots
  • Heat Emergencies;
  • Droughts;
  • Bomb Threats;
  • Terrorist Target Protection;
  • Presidential Visits;
  • Infectious Disease Outbreaks.
  • School Shooting Incidents.

  • Training has been coordinated for a wide range of hazards, including:
    1. Hazardous Materials;
    2. Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD);
    3. Senior Official Workshops were held after 9/11 for elected leaders locally;
    4. National Incident Management System (NIMS) workshops were held for courses required for elected leaders and response chiefs for Homeland Security;
    5. Specialized federal training for WMD in Alabama and Nevada;
    6. Representatives from all response forces attended training for the nationís 120 largest cities for terrorist events training with Dayton officials, since Scioto was one of the top 25 largest counties in Ohio at the time in 2002;
    7. Haz -Mat basic response training costs are offered to fire departments each year through state and federal funding;
    8. When state and federal disaster funding criteria are met, senior officials are provided briefings for cost recovery measures through EMA;
    9. Public presentations to social and civic organizations are conducted regularly for preparedness activities;
    10. Active Shooter Program for Schools and Response Agencies for eliminating threats and coordinating response to violent intruder incidents.

    Homeland Security Grant funds have enabled high-tech equipment to be purchased that would not otherwise have been possible. The equipment that was purchased could be used for all hazard responses, not just terrorism responses, so as to not have equipment just sitting and waiting for the day it might be needed. Over $1 million in equipment to enhance response capabilities and training has been secured by EMA since the Homeland Security Program began. Equipment acquisition has included:

    Scioto County Fire Departments

    1. Multi Gas Meters
    2. Personal Protection Equipment / Suits & Respirator
    3. Automatic Electronic Defibrillator
    4. Radio Communication Equipment
    5. Thermal Imaging Cameras
    6. First Responder Kits
    7. SKED Basic Rescue Back Boards

    Scioto County EMS Departments

    1. Triage Kits
    2. Automatic Electronic Defibrillator
    3. Personal Protection Equipment / Suits & Respirator
    4. Headlamps and other EMS Response Aid Equipment
    5. First Responder Kits
    6. Radio Communication Equipment
    7. Basic Life Support Backpacks
    8. SKED Basic Rescue Back Boards

    Scioto County Law Enforcement Departments

    1. Radio Communication Equipment
    2. Lap Top in Car Dispatch Technology
    3. Thermal Imaging Cameras
    4. Personal Protection Equipment
    5. First Responder Kits
    6. Patrol / Dive Boat

    A threat and risk assessment of Scioto County of potential targets for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) is maintained by Scioto County EMA. A Terrorism Committee appointed by the Board of County Commissioners identified resource needs. Through Homeland Security grants, a significant step was made to equip first response departments to better handled the type of response that would be required for a WMD or other type of emergency event.

    EMA is in 24/7 contact with the National Weather Service for warning dissemination and has an active spotter program locally. In 2000, Scioto County became one of only 330 counties in the United States to be designated as a Storm Ready County by the National Weather Service because of the multiple notification systems in place to warn officials and the public and for storm tracking through their spotter program. This was quite an honor.

    EMA maintains an EOC readiness for coordination of response to whatever emergency situation arises. Hazardous Chemical inventories for all local facilities are maintained per state and federal laws. Plans are continually modified to meet new state and federal guidelines. Companies report chemical spills to EMA locally within 30 minutes of their occurrence 24/7.

    EMA has secured significant funds for Scioto County over the past two decades. These funds have enabled EMA to grow, and has provided training and funding for equipment for city, county, and township jurisdictions. Disaster funds have enabled recovery. In total EMA has secured more than $30 million dollars in disaster funds the past 25 years for local government and its citizenry. Over $1 million dollars in Homeland Security grants were secured for the purchase of first response agency equipment.

    Scioto Countyís damage assessment program has secured State and Federal Disaster funds whenever thresholds for such programs have been permitted. EMA has secured State Disaster Declaration by the Governor and Federal Disaster Declarations by the President more times than most counties. A review of state and federal disaster funds brought in is significant for recovery in an impoverished area.

    Other Grant Program Funds throughout the years have included FEMA Grants for EMA office operations, which are 50% county fund match. These funds have increased over the years. Nearly half a million dollars has been received to offset cost of office operations.

    Local Emergency Planning Funds from the State Emergency Response Commission have provided HAZ-MAT and other preparedness and planning moneys. County Commissioners have adopted a resolution designating EMA as the lead agency for hazardous material plans and chemical inventory management for local industry.

    From the early days of the Fifties, Sixties, Seventies and Eighties of Civil Defense, the agency has grown into what is now Emergency Management. This team approach to planning for, coordinating response to, and organizing recovery from, a host of emergency crisis is of great benefit to local communities. With every agency working together it ensures that Scioto County is a safer place to live and raise a family.

UPDATED 4.2.12
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