Emergency planning in Urbancrest

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By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

New safety measures could soon be enacted in the village of Urbancrest.

At its Feb. 12 regular meeting, village council discussed the first reading of legislation that would establish an emergency preparedness plan as well as the purchase of a speed capturing sign.

Members of the health and safety committee presented the first draft of the emergency preparedness plan in December but have since made modifications to the proposal.

“They have been modest changes, mostly having to do with wording,” said councilwoman Alicia Wiggins.

One of the changes, she said to the council, had to do with assembling a response team. She wanted to make it clear that the response to an emergency, whether it be a natural disaster or man-made, should be a team effort rather than solely up to one individual.

“We have to have multiple people engaged,” she said.

She included the administration, council and trained residents among her examples of team engagement.

In the draft, the health and safety committee has recommended that residents volunteer to participate in Franklin County’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). She said this free program, which takes place once a week for several months, trains residents in basis disaster response skills such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.

Wiggins said she knows taking part of the training program might be time consuming but feels it would be beneficial for residents to know how to assist in the event of an emergency.

“It’s something we all need to know,” she said.

Also discussed was the importance of setting up social media accounts.

“Our social media presence is no longer an option but a necessity,” said Wiggins.

She said the village needs to have an updated website and set up a Facebook page as well as a Twitter account.

Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr. asked if there should be a focus on one of those platforms rather than multiple platforms but Wiggins said they should utilize all of them.

“We can use them to get the word out fast, but Twitter is word limited,” she said.

She went on to say that with Facebook, they can fully explain what is going on and active Facebook Live to give residents a real-time look at current conditions and warnings.

Barnes said he felt it was important to reach out to the local television and radio networks as well.

He added that he liked what was featured in the draft so far but would like to see more engagement with local churches and businesses.

“I think we need to hold meetings with leaders of our churches and the YMCA,” he said.

He said they have to get a feel for how these locations could be used in case residents need to shower, charge their phones and other electronic devises or just need a place to sleep. Barnes also said they should reach out to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank in the event that residents need access to food.

Wiggins said the members of the health and safety committee wanted the emergency preparedness plan to be a living document where modifications can be made as needed.

Council also discussed the purchase of one speed capturing sign. According to Wiggins, they would purchase the sign, which has the capabilities of capturing and storing data, from Radarsign, LLC at a cost of $4,570.

There was some debate as to where it would be located but Wiggins said one of the best things about this particular sign is that it can be moved to different locations throughout the village.

Resident Erika Dobbins-Chatman said she liked the idea of speed signs as vehicles often “fly down the street” but wanted to know if speed bumps could be installed as well.

Wiggins said they had discussed installing speed bumps throughout the village but ultimately decided against it due to the potential damage to village road equipment, mainly their snow plows. She added that the idea, as well as others, are not off the table for future use.

“I can’t imagine that we cannot come up with something to help solve the problem,” she said.

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