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Archive for Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Officials get crash course in crisis management

December 14, 2004

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A severe snowstorm, a flu outbreak and a Kansas University basketball player dying of meningitis.

Those events were all part of crisis scenarios Lawrence-area public officials and employees had to work through during an emergency-management course last week in Emmitsburg, Md.

Seventy-three people from Douglas County attended the training, which provided an opportunity for them to become better acquainted with people they may need to work with in a crisis.

"The connections people made were really important," said Teri Smith, assistant director of emergency management for Douglas County. "This also was an opportunity where people couldn't be distracted by other events."

The tab for the training, including airfare to Maryland, was covered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Every year, the agency selects 10 communities for the training. The group included people from the city and county commissions, Kansas University, the school district, Lawrence Memorial Hospital and emergency-response agencies.

Tom Bracciano, director of operations and facility planning for the Lawrence school district, said the course encouraged people to be a step ahead and helped them anticipate problems.

In one example, he said, the school district needed to get children to and from school in buses during a snowstorm. He said in the scenario they were able to work out the logistics, but forgot to have people remove snow from parking lots.

"It's the minor things you have to think about," Bracciano said. "So it was good to think about that."

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