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Greenwood, Johnson County teams participate in new Incident Command Workshop for public and municipal employees

Joel Heavner paces before a screen and audience of public works employees about Incident Command Systems training

Municipal employees across multiple departments and districts are front-line workers in response to any large-scale natural disaster, man-made challenge, or any incident that threatens life and property. 

Vantage Point Consulting, at the request of the City of Greenwood Stormwater District, developed a custom, one-of-a-kind incident command workshop designed exclusively for municipal workers.

“The whole workshop is designed to give an overview of emergency response, operations, and incident command system as it applies to public works, street departments, water and wastewater departments, and the Emergency Operations Center,” says VPC Training Coordinator Joel Heavner, who designed and led the workshop.

Attendees at Greenwood’s Incident Command for Municipal Workers Workshop participated in a tabletop exercise to gain experience in their department-specific roles and responsibilities within the Emergency Operations Center.

Men from the Greenwood Public Works department gather for incident command systems training

Leaders from nearby Whiteland also participated after a tornado struck there in 2023. Eclipse preparations for the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse also prompted more participation between agencies and departments. “When an influx of people come into a community, it requires a robust response for everything from crowd control, traffic flow, streetlight operations, and more,” says Heavner.

Jamey Burrows, VPC HazMat Branch Director and also a member of a federal search and rescue team, sees how municipal workers are vital during and after a critical incident. “When a disaster strikes most people assume the fire department and law enforcement do the majority of the work. What gets overlooked though on so many occasions, especially in the initial response phase, is the tremendous work and responsibility that the Public Works departments have. These include clearing roads so Ambulances can get through, to setting up temporary lighting in damaged areas, to blocking roads to assist law enforcement,” he says

“Our goal in these workshops is to help everyone understand who is doing what, who is responsible for specific actions, and how their actions are vital to protecting life and property,” says Heavner.

Burrows rightly notes, “After the houses have been searched from a tornado or the high waters recede after a major flood, it is the Public Works agencies and their Streets, Power and Light, Parks, departments and others, that must manage the enormous task of the debris removal. That is only done effectively and safely working in an Incident Command setting.”

Learn more about the Incident Command for Municipal Employees Workshop and request one for your county or municipality.

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