June 28, 2005
Fixing a glitch during the Graniteville train accident could help you during a hurricane. A new report reviews what went right and what went wrong with the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office’s response to January’s disaster and it’s information that can help us all.
How would you grade the Aiken County Sheriff’s Department’s response to the Graniteville train crash?
“A good A to me. They really did a good job responding and taking care of everybody that needed to be evacuated,” said William Hicks.
An internal report reviews the sheriff’s department’s strengths and weaknesses. Overall marks are high. Some of the sheriff’s department’s strengths: communicating to the public, shutting down Avondale Mills, and planning for school closings.
But there are also lessons learned from the report. The most important one to Sheriff Hunt: the county needs a permanent emergency operations center.
The county council chambers are turned into the emergency operations center, but it takes two hours to set up tables and computers and hook up phones to the jacks in the ceilings.
Other strikes against the EOC, the outside of the building is mostly glass, there’s no backup generator and there are unsecured entrances.
“An EOC that is not a hardened facility and is not a secure facility and doesn’t have a backup power source is just frankly not an EOC,” Sheriff Hunt said.
Other bad marks in the report: Animal Control didn’t have a plan already in place for pets and the county’s reverse 911 system didn’t reach everyone quickly. Both problems have been fixed, Sheriff Hunt says reverse 911 can now be activated from the Sheriff’s Department Dispatch Center.
Some lessons learned in January, but overall a report card to bring home to mom.
“As far as the community as a whole, I think we rate very high up there, if not an A certainly a B plus,” Hunt said.
In the coming months look for test reverse 911. Reports on the fire department and EMS response are due out tomorrow.
Download the report.