The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

December 10, 2013

Job Corps is ready; are you?


"StormReady Supporters take a new, proactive approach to improving hazardous weather operations, response and preparedness," said Jeff Johnson, Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM) at the NWS Forecast Office, Des Moines.

There are still some of the "old standbys" like taking attendance, though it's a bit more organized, with Fisher himself rapidly getting an overall count. That way, if the report totals 181 people accounted for, when he knows there should be 184, he will know what their location should have been. Resources can then be used wisely to go search that area. If everyone is accounted for, with minor injuries that can be handled by EMTs already employed at the center, Fisher can then tell Ottumwa firefighters and other rescue personnel that the Job Corps center is all right for now. In a disaster, that allows Ottumwa to wisely use their resources, too.

It takes some work to get certified, Fisher said, but its not that hard, and safety has been enhanced. For example, to be certified, an organization must have more than one way to receive emergency weather information. Job Corps security officers are able to monitor weather 24 hours through local media and via the Internet. Battery backup weather radios are in multiple locations on center.

"When we have a severe weather watch, I get two texts and four emails," Fisher said, adding that he is then immediately in contact with the center director — unless the director has already called him first.

"If it's lightning, for example, we don't want the kids out running around," Douglas explained.

The program is voluntary and provides businesses and groups with "clear-cut advice," said Johnson, the meteorologist.

Interested in getting in on the StormReady program? You'll need to contact the National Weather Service. But here are the basics:

Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center.

Have more than one way to receive severe weather forecasts and warnings and to alert the public.

Create a system that monitors local weather conditions.

Promote the importance of public readiness through training and seminars.

Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes specific instructions and protocols in responding to different severe weather hazards.

To follow reporter Mark Newman on Twitter, see @CourierMark


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