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LF-R chief gets prepared for disasters

Posted: March 4, 2014 4:10 p.m.
Updated: March 5, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Emergency managers from across South Carolina are meeting this week at the annual S.C. Emergency Management Association Conference in Myrtle Beach. Among those training for disaster preparedness is Lugoff Fire-Rescue (LF-R) Chief Dennis Ray, who also serves as the public information officer for Kershaw County Emergency Mangement.

“Preparedness and training are the keys to all we do in emergency services regardless of the area of responsibility. Disasters begin local and end local, even if the extent of the disaster stretches to state and federal levels,” Ray said in a press release. “As a fire chief of a local government agency in Lugoff, I must do all I can to prepare our agency for many types of disasters that include terrorist attacks, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive attacks, local infectious disease outbreaks, transportation disasters involving trains, planes and commercial vehicles and weather-related disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and winter-weather issues.”

Ray said February’s winter storm is a prime example of how quickly local resources can be challenged to meet statewide response demands.

“For a local official, these issues can be very overwhelming; which makes the information from this training conference of such value for me and my fellow emergency managers,” he said.

Ray said partnerships and solid working relationships between local officials, such as the LF-R and state agencies during a disaster, are paramount to the success of agencies meeting the needs of the public. He emphasized that emergency management agencies work well together in South Carolina from the local to the federal level before, during and after disasters occur.

“Our Kershaw County Office of Emergency Management provides us continuous updates and information when we face disaster situations. That office is closely connected the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) to make sure the state agencies are informed of what we are facing or needing on the local level,” he said.

Ray said the state office, in turn, stays connected to federal agencies, such as the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“Our SCEMD Office does a tremendous job of coordinating large-scale events while keeping the local officials advised of current and future response needs,” Ray said. “Having direct contact with state and local emergency management officials before a disaster is a key area in preparation for what may lie ahead for us statewide. Knowing faces and having cell phone numbers now before an event is invaluable.”

Local, state, and federal officials are conducting the training for the emergency managers this week from all over the nation, covering a vast array of topics for disaster preparation. After-action reports from various disasters will also be reviewed to provide guidance to emergency managers for future event preparation.

Ray said Kershaw Count Fire Marshal and Emergency Management Director Gene Faulkenberry is also undergoing the emergency training.

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