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Emergency preparedness training helps businesses

April 16, 2014 - By Meg Peters

Review Staff Writer

On Tuesday, April 15, representatives from the Oakland County Sheriff's Department and Orion Township Fire Department delivered a free presentation on workplace emergency preparedness training in the home, in business, and in the community.

Speakers touched on safety and security protocols relating to business customers, owners and employees, along with vital training to help community members develop a comprehensive action plan to be used in the event of an emergency.

Emergency Management Operations Chief of the OC Sheriff's Department, Mel Maier, touched on the Emergency Dispatch Protocols for emergency fire, medical and police dispatching. The OC Sheriff's department is the only agency in Michigan that is trained in all three protocols, Maier said, which provides step-by-step questions that are used consistently for every call.

"If it's a medical we can choose from one of 36 medical protocols with protocol based questions in order to give pre-arrival instructions to the Orion Township Fire Department when they are responding," Maier said.

The sheriff's department has statewide and countywide radio connectivity, direct connection to the national weather center, and works with the emergency management division in the county along with the emergency managers of Orion Township.

"One of the biggest preventers of crime has always been lights," Maier said. "Keep everything well lit, windows clear and vision unobstructed so criminals can't work in private," he said.

Criminals think they can break into auto dealerships by hiding between car lanes, Maier said, so having good security lighting can allow citizens driving by and deputies to easily locate suspicious activity.

Another aspect Maier touched on was always calling 911 for suspicious activity instead of the nonemergency number. Calling 911 allows dispatchers to locate cellphone callers and pinpoint an address for landline callers.

Maier said if you are using a landline to make sure to know your exact location, either the room containing the telephone, the floor, or the suite number of the building, and encouraged business owners to update their phone systems so GPS systems can more accurately pinpoint the location.

Mike Loper, Emergency Management Specialist of Oakland County Homeland Security, talked about the big picture, bringing emergency management planning at the federal and state level down to the county and local level for the "emergency management whole community approach."

He explained the system of disaster response recovery and offered insight to the Continuity of Operations, the "ability to recover and restore services as quickly as possible so you don't go out of business.

"Have generators, have water, have a plan for employees who must temporarily work from home," Loper said. "Local businesses should have an emergency plan no matter how big or small they are."

There are two things to consider when an emergency strikes, which in Michigan is either severe summer weather, like a tornado or wind storm, or severe winter weather.

"Evacuate or shelter in place," Loper said. If there is enough warning to evacuate, have a plan to do so safely. But if there is not enough time then employees, customers, owners must have a plan to remain at the site of the emergency.

Oakland County Sheriff Lieutenant Dan Toth, commander of the Orion Township substation, spoke of the importance maintaining the three rings of security.

Use surveillance systems in the outer ring, in parking lots, loading docks, and areas open to the public, Toth said. The second ring is securing vestibules and lobbies once entering the building. The inner ring is for restricted areas like classrooms, and making sure those doors are locked, too.

Toth reminded those who have security systems to make sure their video surveillance camera lenses are clean to provide a clear picture when needed.

You can't just rely on the video surveillance, however, you still need to lock the doors, and have an entry-exit system, he said.

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