This project purchased two inflatable hydration misting tents as regional resources. Heat stress is a major concern at both planned events and emergency incidents which occur when ambient temperatures are 80 degrees or higher. Heat stress is a concern for first responders, in particular firefighters when battling fires in high temperatures, or police on detail when in direct sunlight. These high pressure misting units/tents can be deployed to events and incidents as a part of a strategy inclusive of encouragement of hydration, proper nutrition, and provision of shaded cover and reduction of strenuous activity to reduce the occurrence of heat stress related injuries. One unit is located in Springfield and the other in Pittsfield. Direction on how to borrow them can be found in the WRHSAC Resource Guide.
A professional engineer/ certified radio engineer was hired to undertake a complete study which evaluated the current UHF two channel analog simulcast system that operates with equipment located at multiple sites across the towns of Franklin County. Recent interference and dropped communication challenges were presenting difficulties which were elusive to identify. The project discovered several cause areas including timing misalignment, antenna crossover and some software programming. The causes have been remedied with fixes. The study also recommended long-term improvements/upgrades to the system. The study was completed in spring 2016.
This project updated the WMLEC (Western Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council) communications antenna on Hovey Hill in Monson, MA. The new antenna has improved WMLEC coverage in western Hampden County. The WMLEC system serves as a mutual aid communication system for police, fire and EMS.
WRHSAC purchased equipment for the newly formed Franklin County Special Response Team (FCSRT). Equipment included tactical armor, helmets, communication gear, training simunitions and lockers. The project was completed in the summer of 2016.
Reference: Franklin County Special Response Team
An equipment and supplies cache for companion animal sheltering was established and is located at the Thomas J. O’Conner Animal Shelter in Springfield, MA. The equipment and supplies are available to Disaster Animal Response Teams throughout the region.
The Spontaneous and Unaffiliated Volunteer (SUV) Training Toolkit is designed to provide the resources necessary to effectively plan for and safely operate a volunteer management system based on the Incident Command System (ICS). Volunteers are an essential part of emergency response and disaster recovery. Large and small scale emergencies involve and attract volunteers of all types: affiliated and unaffiliated; deployed and self-deployed. Research suggests that the more uncoordinated an emergency response effort seems, the more volunteers will self-deploy, potentially becoming a disaster within a disaster by taking precious resources away from the emergency response. This project produced a self-directed training series for municipalities, emergency management directors, and others on how to prepare for and manage unaffiliated volunteers.
The Western Region Homeland Security Advisory Council partnered with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Springfield, MA Office, to host an information symposium regarding active shooter incidents. The symposium was held on the Deerfield Academy campus in March 2016. Speakers included: Connecticut State Police and Newtown Police discussing the incident at Sandy Hook in December 2012; Manchester CT Fire Chief discussing EMS/Fire response to the 2010 incident at Hartford Beer Distribution; and a behavior analysis overview from the FBI. Approximately 600 people, from first responders to private businesses, attended the symposium.
Family Reunification following a disaster or emergency incident was identified as a top priority for the region in the Executive Summary of the Children in Disasters Conference, 2015. This project seeks to establish a family reunification plan template which municipalities, agencies and other organization can adopt and include in their emergency preparedness and response plans. Research began in the summer of 2016 with a completed template anticipated by late spring/early summer 2017.
WRHSAC is conducting a multi-phase/multi-year project to help to prepare the region to meet the needs of children during and following disasters. This project will help the region be more prepared to meet the needs of children in emergency planning and response and recovery operations. A region-wide conference was held in September 2015. An executive summary was completed and a plan of action established from summary recommendations. The project is ongoing.
Reference: Children in Disasters
WRHSAC has placed a portable, inflatable shelter at the Berkshire County Sheriff’s Office. The shelter is 15′ x 20′ and can be set up within 5 minutes. The shelter has both heating and cooling units. It can be used where immediate, portable shelter is necessary, such as ongoing search and rescue operations, disaster response, and large planned events such as fair and parades. The shelter is house and maintained by the Berkshire County Sheriff Office. It is a regional asset. Information about borrowing the shelter can be found in the resource guide.
Reference: Portable inflatable shelter