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Du Quoin EMA discusses emergency preparedness Emergency: Keep supply kits stocked and ready.

Byline: pete spitler

Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Illinois started Sunday, and with memories of the Fat Tuesday tornado and the May 8, 2009 super derecho still fresh, the Du Quoin Call sat down with the city's EMA coordinator on Monday to discuss emergency planning.

"We're an accredited municipality with the state of Illinois," said Doug Clark, Du Quoin EMA coordinator. "We're one of, I believe, 30 within the state.

"We have a full emergency operations plan. I think our plan's about 350 pages and it's not disaster-specific, but it addresses the particular disasters in which the city can be the most at-risk."

The plan not only includes natural disasters, but also significant accidents such as train derailments. In February 2003, 21 cars of a Canadian National Railway/Illinois Central Railway freight train derailed in the middle of Tamaroa, a village along U.S. Route 51 north of Du Quoin.

Some of the tank cars contained hydrochloric acid, vinyl chloride, methanol and formaldehyde. A combination of the escaped fumes, in warmer

temperatures, could have caused an explosion large enough to create a crater 25 feet deep and four blocks wide.

Roughly 900 residents were evacuated from their homes that day. More recently, 17 cars of a 97-car Union Pacific train hauling containers of car parts derailed near Steeleville in August 2016.

No one was injured in either incident.

"We do have an increased risk with hazardous materials with having a main line, Canadian National rail line, going through town," Clark said.

The region's primary hazardous materials response team, Division 45, is based in Marion, while another divisional team is in Mt. Vernon.

Emergency responders collaborate through a variety of mutual aid programs such as the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) for firefighters, Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS) and the Illinois Public Works Mutual Aid Network (IPWMAN).

"The state invested a lot of money and assets to develop a lot of these statewide mutual aid agreements and those are very effective," Clark said. "After the derecho went through Carbondale and Marion, that was, I believe, one of the first IPWMAN requests that were fulfilled.

"In those specifics, as members of IPWMAN, members agree to deploy assets that are requested and it's those assets, plus five days of salary-free or non-charged events."

Du Quoin's Emergency Operations building is inside the old waterworks building on Division Street near Marshall Browning Hospital, but plans are in progress to move Emergency Operations to Fire Station No. 2 on U.S. Route 51.

"It's a little bit more modern, a little bit more ADA-compliant, accessible facility," he said. "It has more parking and stuff like that."

Clark - who also serves on the statewide Emergency Management Assistance Team - said some counties have a full-time EMA coordinator, while many are only part-time.

Clark himself is a part-time coordinator with the city.

"If you have a part-time coordinator, it makes the city eligible for a little bit of grant money that helps offset the cost of keeping an Emergency Operations center online," he said.

In the event of a large-scale accident or disaster, Clark suggests residents maintain an emergency supply kit that includes medication, dry food and water.

"Emergency supply kits are important because there may not be water available for a couple of days," Clark said. "I think they recommend a gallon per day per person on that.

"For medications, a lot of the recommendation on that is doing a rotation where you keep your newest prescription in the supply kit."
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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Mar 7, 2018
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