The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

April 18, 2013

Lessons from loss: Emergency workers plan to study Boston closely

OTTUMWA — Just about every time there’s a tragedy like the bombing in Boston, disaster response workers learn something to improve the safety of our area.

"It's unfortunate that it takes something like the bombing in Boston," said Josh Stevens, emergency management coordinator for Wapello County. "[Yet] when something happens outside of Ottumwa, it causes folks both public and private to go back and review their plans."

It's a necessity, say the experts. As violent criminals adapt new methods, emergency workers must too. For years, announcements in airports and other gathering places asked passengers to report unattended packages. The public responded. So now, dropping an item in the trash may have become a more workable method of “hiding” a bomb.

“The reality of this is in no society are you going to completely get rid of someone doing something radical," said Jerry Calnon, emergency management coordinator for Van Buren and Jefferson counties. "You can’t stop that. All you can do is try to control the environment to minimize [the damage]."

"Training is a great opportunity to mitigate these kind of incidents," said Stevens.

And how they train is based on how things occur in real life.

"We definitely try to turn every incident that happens into a learning tool," said Stevens. "But we wait for the after-report, the debriefing. 'This is one of the problems we had,' or they'll say 'This is one of the things we did really well.'"

The secure Homeland Security site is one of those places responders can go to gather information for planning.

"Why make the same mistake someone else made?" Stevens said.

For example, in 2009, Wapello County discovered that adding 15,000 people on bikes to a population of 30,000 is going to make communication by cell phone very difficult. Officers or first responders on foot would need to have a second way of communicating than texting or making cell phone calls. So that's one of the less tragic but "real-life examples" Stevens said he is sharing with RAGBRAI organizers in Pella and Oskaloosa.

Text Only
Local News
  • Seasonal forecast Cool summer leading to cool fall? OTTUMWA — By late July, the average daytime high temperature starts to drop. What is normally the hottest part of the year is over. Averages are still in the mid-80s, and it certainly wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to see days in even the upper 90s.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Grant helps Hills keep students on track OTTUMWA — Thanks to a grant designed to improve graduation rates, Indian Hills Community College now has even more tools in its campuswide effort to help students with needs and give them the resources they need to stay in class. Indian Hills is one

    July 28, 2014

  • 0728 OTT ribs in eldon BBQ dinner with a hundred friends

    ELDON --- This year's Eldon Rib Cook-off was won by three BBQ chefs --- and about 150 hungry visitors. "I was down here last year, too," said Dwayne Yates from Floris, who was biting into his third smoked rib. "I never had a bad one yet." That's what

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mediacom: Rural cable consumers and companies mistreated OTTUMWA --- You may want to add just a racing channel, a court channel or a nature channel to your cable line up. Unfortunately, you'll probably have to buy a "bundle," which, ironically, is what it will cost you here in Wapello County. That's accord

    July 26, 2014

  • Alternate juror could not have convicted Techel based on evidence DAVENPORT — An alternate juror who was dismissed before Seth Techel, 23, of Agency was convicted of killing his wife and the non-consensual termination of a human pregnancy says the verdict could have been different if she had been in deliberations.D

    July 25, 2014

  • Overcome testing fear, get a good job OTTUMWA — It's not who you know, it's what you know. That's what City leaders say about getting a good paying job in Ottumwa. "It seems like in the last year we've had a real reduction in the number of individuals who've applied," said Joni Keith, hu

    July 25, 2014

  • Water Pollution Control Facility gets OK to upgrade OTTUMWA — An emergency Ottumwa City Council meeting resulted in spending $140,583 for the Water Pollution Control Facility. Friday afternoon, council members listened intently as Ottumwa Water Pollution Control Facility Superintendent Kam Reeves told

    July 25, 2014

  • Quincy Ave. project starts Aug. 4 OTTUMWA — Updates on the Quincy Avenue project was given to residents and businesses residing between Albia Road and Hwy. 34 on Thursday night at Ottumwa City Hall. About a dozen people attended the meeting where City Engineer Dan Sturm gave an updat

    July 25, 2014

  • Silence continues on fatal shooting OTTUMWA — Law enforcement is exercising its right to remain silent about a shooting death that occurred south of town this week. The Wapello County Sheriff's Office, which had responded to the shooting, said most information on the case would now com

    July 25, 2014

  • 0726 OTT cedar creek Gone in a flash

    BLOOMFIELD — Bob Parker got about as close to lightning as you can Friday morning, and came out of it without injury. A line of thunderstorms started moving through southeast Iowa in the early morning hours. Parker was heading to work at about 7 a.m.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook