Is El Paso prepared for disaster?

Friday, April 19, 2013 - 11:36pm

From the movie theatre massacre in Aurora, Colorado, to the tragic shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, to now, the bloodshed in Boston, where 2 bombings and a shooting left 4 dead and some 170 injured -- horrific disasters have become all too common and emergency responders around the country are preparing their cities for the worst.

But what's El Paso's plan of action?

"When El Paso has any kind of emergency or disaster situation, we activate what's called the 'Emergency Operations Center,'" said Scott Calderwood, the Emergency Management Coordinator for the city and county of El Paso.

The Emergency Operations Center is an office similar to a 9-11 call center, where elected officials like the Mayor, County Judge, and City Manager, all come together for a meeting to assign different agencies roles and responsibilities for how to respond to an incident.

The El Paso Office of Emergency Management conducts drills at least once every year. During those drills, they practice full scale exercises so it's as authentic as possible.

"That way, we can work together to make sure that we have our resources allocated properly and that we're not duplicating efforts. Those sorts of things," said Calderwood.

The police department typically handles bombs threats and evacuations. Firefighters are responsible for fire protection and hazardous materials. Then, there's organizations like the Red Cross which provides food, shelter, and health services during, for instance, natural disasters like the 2006 floods in El Paso or the freeze in 2011.

The Red Cross says while it's hard to predict an attack like the one in Boston, regular civilians can indeed prepare for the worst.

"If you look at the scenes, and it's been horrifying, really, the people who are right there are able to render aid. People, normal citizens, providing aid, providing CPR. It helps if you're trained, to save a life," said Mark Matthys, Executive Director for the Red Cross in El Paso.

Planning for an emergency is something most people would rather not think about but first responders say it's better to be safe than sorry.

"Talking with your family about disaster planning, it'll make you feel better and a lot more positive during times like this," said Matthys.


Reader Comments

Post new Comment