OTTUMWA — As winter approaches, a location in Ottumwa has become one of only six places in the state to be certified "StormReady."
Officials from the National Weather Service recognized the Ottumwa Job Corps center as one of their StormReady Supporters. Mark Douglas, center director, said the local Job Corps is the first in the United States to be certified.
"Our safety officer, Chris Fisher, assesses safety compliance at the center," Douglas said Tuesday. "This whole storm readiness [initiative] was his idea. It's a pretty big deal."
A former firefighter trained as an EMT, Fisher tries to train staff and students before there is an emergency. He also inspects various job training programs regularly to ensure compliance with OSHA and other federal entities. Yet it was his status as a longtime storm spotter that clued him into this extremely detailed program.
"You do everything you can to prepare your people," Fisher said, "because you can't control the weather. What we don't want is them [trying to figure] what to do after it hits. We plan and drill, so when something bad does happen, they know what to do until help arrives."
The National Weather Service really has this program organized, he said. Though Douglas said Fisher has been one of the keys to the Ottumwa center's excellent safety record, he said he knows no one can think of everything.
In fact, acknowledges Fisher, when the National Weather Service review committee first went through his weather preparedness plan, they sent it back to him.
"They said I missed a couple of things," he said. "They did a site evaluation and made some [location specific] recommendations."
He accepted the critique, was glad they found what no one had previously thought about, and redid the plan. This time, it was approved.