Emergency Preparedness

Bob Gale speaks into a radio Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016 at the St. Louis County Emergency Operations Center. He's been involved with ham radio for 40 years.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

If a major disaster were to strike the St. Louis area, odds are the St. Louis County Emergency Operations Center near Ballwin would be swarming with personnel.

On Saturday, a handful of ham radio operators reported to the center to practice their role in an emergency: getting the word out.

Public health emergencies can range from weather-related emergencies to disease outbreaks to civil unrest.
Robert Boston | Washington University

The St. Louis region faces a wide range of potential public health crises, including natural disasters like tornados and floods, infectious disease epidemics and civil unrest.

Our ability to respond to such emergencies will be the focus of a conference on Thursday hosted annually by Washington University’s Institute for Public Health.

First responders throughout St. Charles County will now use one emergency radio communications system, allowing them to talk to each other when responding to events.
Courtesy St. Charles County Police Department Facebook

Nearly all first responders throughout St. Charles County are now able to talk to one another.

That's because the county has finished building a new, $34 million emergency radio communications system. Before the new system was recently put in place, municipalities throughout the county had their own, separate radio systems.

Missouri Shake Out/SEMA

This morning, residents of Missouri, Illinois, and seven other Central U.S. states participated in an earthquake preparedness drill.

The annual event is known as the Great Central U.S. ShakeOut. This year, close to three million people registered to participate.

(National Institutes of Health)

As many as a quarter of EMTs and other emergency medical personnel in the St. Louis area may not be getting annual flu vaccinations, according to a new study out of Saint Louis University.

Saint Louis University nurse researcher and study lead Terri Rebmann says many study participants had misconceptions about the flu vaccine.

(UPI/Tom Uhlenbrock)

As of Monday, the National Weather Service will be issuing a new kind of tornado warning in Missouri and Kansas.

The new, more forceful and explicit messages are designed to get attention and drive people to take shelter during dangerous storms.

(USGS)

The Great Central U.S. ShakeOut is an annual event intended to raise awareness about what to do in the event of a major earthquake.

Steve Besemer of the Missouri Emergency Management Agency says in Missouri and Illinois, more than 900,000 people, most of them students, participated in today's drill.

He says if an earthquake hits, there are three simple steps people should follow.

(via Wikimedia Commons/FEMA Photo Library)

St. Louis County will be re-testing some of its tornado sirens this week.

The county has already tested the new omni-directional, solar-powered warning system twice since Labor Day.

But a spokesman for the county’s Department of Highways and Traffic and Public Works, David Wrone, says residents living near 18 of the sirens haven’t been able to hear them.

(via Flickr/ines_saraiva)

Motorola Solutions has been awarded a $75 million contract to design a radio system for first responders in St. Louis County.

The system will allow more than 150 police departments, fire departments, paramedics and other public safety agencies to communicate directly with each other by radio. Officials say their inability to do that makes it difficult to respond to disasters effectively.

(via Flickr/Filipão 28)

Federal officials will conduct the first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) next week.

It’s scheduled for 1:00 p.m. Central Standard Time on Wednesday, November 9th, and will be broadcast over every radio station, TV station and cable network across the country.  Mike O’Connell with the Missouri Department of Public Safety says state officials are helping spread the word, so that residents don’t mistake the test for a real emergency.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

The federal government has provided millions of dollars to state and local governments to get them prepared to respond to the next 9/11.

In St. Louis and other regions across the country, the funds allowed fire departments to purchase equipment for all types of rescues and train their people to use the equipment. The requirements of the federal grants forced agencies to work together.

But federal funding dropped by more than 50 percent between fiscal years 2010 and 2011, and no one is sure how much money will be available for fiscal year 2012. And that’s raising some concerns about the sustainability of the region’s plan to respond to a mass disaster.

(U.S. Geological Survey)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is holding drills across six states this week to see how prepared they are for a major earthquake along the New Madrid fault.

FEMA is teaming up with the military, as well as local hospitals, shelters and morgues for the simulation.

Beth Freeman is the FEMA regional administrator for Missouri and several neighboring states.

(via Flickr/jennlynndesign)

Missouri Senate Committee to Release Redistricting Map Today

A Missouri Senate committee is preparing to consider a plan for developing new congressional districts. Missouri is losing one of its nine seats in the U.S. House, and the state Legislature is responsible for drawing the boundaries of the eight resulting districts. The Senate committee on redistricting is scheduled to release its proposed map today.