SAINT JOHNSBURY- With over 370 mass shootings and 480 weather-related deaths in the United States in 2015, officials in the Northeast Kingdom and across Vermont are training to be prepared for any type of disaster.
Michael Moss, Director of Emergency Operations at Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital explained why NVRH is going through exercises of how to prepare for a natural disaster.
“You learn from them, and thats the whole purpose of theses drills and these exercises,” he said. “For us tolerant and plan and minimize the surprises, so that when you have a natural disaster like a flood, or roads closures, what do you do if you can’t get people to the hospital, or it takes down your water supply? You have to be prepared for these types of situations.”
Natural disasters aren’t the only situation officials are preparing for, as the town of Lyndon is conducting a vigilant guard this summer, which will test emergency workers’ abilities to respond to a catastrosphic event.
Lyndon is one of seven Vermont towns to conduct a vigilant guard, as over 4,000 responders from state and federal agencies, emergency operation centers, and the Vermont National Guard will take part.
Moss explained why it is important to practice these different types of situations.
“The key for being prepared and exercising and eliminating is crucial in that respect, and it also eliminates fears. Anytime you can tell your public that we know what we are doing and we’ve seen this before, it helps keep people calm, and allows your to do your job effectively.”
When it comes to the regional effort, Moss described who is involved.
“The hospital is just a small piece of a larger entity thats going on in the state,” as law enforcement, EMS and the state are working together.
According to Moss, a few months before Hurricane Irene slammed the eastern part of the United States in 2011, Vermont officials practiced a natural disaster situation, and were prepared for when the storm hit.
The events from the storm were fatal to over fifty people, and cost the country billions of dollars in damages. However, there were some positives to be taken from the tragedy.
“When it actually happened, everything folded out, but they found some deficient areas. They now know what to look for,” Moss said.
Training on the situation and then experiencing the real-life version allows the most learning for those involved.
“It’s all about safety, and the process will become smoother,” he said. “Emergency preparedness, its exciting, and I love it.”
Moss is from out-of-state, but added that he believes Vermont is taking great strides in being prepared for these situations, saying the state has a “robust program” in place.