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“This is a test of the Emergency Broadcast System; this is only a test.” 

Most likely everyone has heard this phrase. On a sunny day with clear skies, the alert does not seem to have much effect on those who hear it. But when a real emergency takes place, are police officers and firefighters fully prepared? A state of emergency can quickly change the dynamics of how public safety departments operate.  

Modern technology allows city and town leaders to monitor emergency events and be better prepared than ever before. A critical way that public safety departments can plan ahead is to conduct emergency evacuation training sessions. These sessions serve as a valuable tool when normal day-to-day operations turn into a fast-moving, unusual situation.  

When police and firefighters are working around the clock in an emergency, the deployment of their equipment is an important part of their ability to protect the public. Do they know where high ground is to park vehicles in the event of flooding? What about a designated area to protect vehicles from debris from damaging winds? Protecting equipment from potential damage is critical so that public safety departments have the equipment they need and can respond to calls.  

While preparing the department is one vital step, preparing the entire community is another. In an evacuation from a dangerous weather event, such as a hurricane, some residents will choose to stay behind to ride out the storm at home. This not only poses risks for the residents, but it can create additional work for emergency personnel. Educating residents is an important task for public safety departments, especially helping people understand that as the severity of the storm increases, the availability of police and firefighter response decreases as a result of the many dangers from high winds, flooding, downed power lines or other storm-related dangers.  

An emergency evacuation can create some uncertainty, but with proper planning and training, police officers, firefighters and other emergency responders can be prepared when called to do so.  

For questions or information related to public safety’s role in emergency planning, contact Chris Radcliff, public safety loss control consultant, at cradcliff@masc.sc or 803.354.4764.