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BY JUSTIN MINYARD
Amidst the first moments following the initial strike of a catastrophic event, law enforcement and emergency response personnel are required to think without brevity whilst conducting themselves in accordance with the circumstance at hand. In a disaster situation, there is no room for pauses, and the staff at the West Point Fire Department has worked diligently to familiarize themselves with their new Emergency Operation Center (EOC) to beef up response time and thoroughness.
The EOC was bought and paid for on behalf of a $27,500 federal Special Projects Grant, which was awarded to the WPFD by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) in June of last year. After the appropriate bits and pieces were shipped to the station, on-staff personnel pulled up their sleeves and erected the EOC by July. Since then, the WPFD staff has conducted monthly training exercises to ascend their knowledge on all facets the command center brings with it.
Battalion Chief Ken Wilbourne said the training isn't necessarily difficult as the main purpose of the practice exercises is brush up on how the equipment and computer systems operate. The learning curve is also heavily dependent, he said, on how familiar a firefighter is with computer systems and how technologically adept he or she is.
After three training sessions with the command center, Wilbourne said the staff is certainly becoming more and more capable of properly handling the equipment. But, as stated, it's vital to take into consideration the level of technological prowess of some of the firefighters that undergo the training sessions.
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