Town of Halifax, VT

Minutes – Special Meeting

May 16, 2012

Call to Order

A special meeting of the Halifax Selectboard was held at the Halifax Fire Department, called to order at 8:00 am.  Present were Selectboard members Earl Holtz, Edee Edwards, and Lewis Sumner.  Drill participants included Justin Berry, Brad Rafus, Leonard Derby, Wayne Courser, Frank Maltese, Paul Blais, Patricia Dow, and Malcolm Sumner.

Hearing of Visitors

•          None present

Vermont Yankee Quarterly Drill

Drill protocols were followed according to the Halifax Emergency Response Plan (as created under the Vermont Radiological Emergency Response Program), as a mock scenario unfolded via the radio, backup shortwave radio, and periodic telephone calls.

Several questions were noted along the way:

•         What is the proper protocol, timing, and value/benefit for declaring an emergency at the local level?

•         If there were a radioactive release even at a level not presently deemed to require off-site response (e.g. Alert level or Site Area Emergency), would we consider a precautionary evacuation of the town?

•         How are the Fire Department, Constable and Road Crew personnel expected to report the number of people who are evacuating and the number who have refused to leave; what credentials would they need to be allowed into the town if they were in a neighboring town and tried to report to duty during an evacuation?

•         If we had to leave the Emergency Operations Center, would we do it in two-stages to move to a new location while maintaining partial staffing at the existing location (time/conditions/accounting of field personnel permitting)?

•         How do we get adequate training for DisasterLAN and close logins we are not using?

•         How do we actually physically request a message to be broadcast to the Reverse 911 call system, and why isn’t Vermont Yankee or VEM simulating using that in the drills on behalf of all towns to be evacuated?

•          And we covered general questions about filling out forms and tracking the EOC operations for the newer members of the EOC personnel.

The drill was declared over at approximately 1:45 pm.

Emergency Management Director (EMD) responsibilities

Lewis Sumner, Justin Berry, Edee Edwards, and Earl Holtz remained to discuss EMD responsibilities and priorities.  The stipend amounts, including division of the second pager pay, for the prorated period of this annual appointment were discussed.  Edwards will follow up with Patty Dow regarding tax issues.  Invoices should separate expenses and pay stipend, and activities and time should be tracked informally.

We discussed our issues with the repeater timing out (causing the announcements to stop coming in after about 1 minute) on the radio at this drill today: Sumner stated that our FY13 funding grant from Vt. Yankee requested a repeater for the highway crew.  Paul Blais, who was still packing up his equipment sated that he can configure his RACES radio as a repeater; this was done in Jamaica during Irene.

Initial or time sensitive tasks for the EMDs were discussed.  The Windham Regional Commission as coordinating the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) had requested an updated BEOP, or Basic Emergency Operations Plan.  Sumner stated that he had updated that and would ask Patty Dow to provide a copy.

A communications grant possibility with a very short response timeline (mid-May) was discussed.  Sumner noted as above that equipment such as a new repeater was requested from Vermont Yankee for this year’s budget, so the fact we aren’t able to apply for this grant may not impact us.

The group quickly reviewed the Halifax Tropical Storm Irene After-Action Review with prioritized tasks, which included improving the Emergency Operations Center as the #1 voted issue, and Writing an All-Hazards Plan as the 2nd most critical note.  These items were elaborated upon with designated responsible parties in the Lessons Learned from Irene Task Force Final Report.

Berry stated that he felt the Halifax Emergency Response Plan we just used for the drill with modifications for other hazards would be feasible.  He also reported on his initial contacts with the LEPC, including the possibilities of using resources from CERT teams (Community Emergency Response Team), and reviewing All Hazard Mitigation Plans.

We noted that since a shelter would normally not be allowed inside the 10 mile radius of Vermont Yankee, our current arrangements with Whitingham to use their facilities in time of need could be explored for extensions.  Berry to check.

Berry also noted that the “Starting Over Strong” program is sponsoring story circles discussing Irene response in several town, and noting that counseling services are available.  First Responders to Irene in particular should know there is support to help get through the stress of a major disaster, but anyone can get assistance.  They are also promoting people getting wells tested if there are remaining concerns about contamination.  He will provide information to the Town Office.

The meeting was adjourned at 2:30 pm.

Respectfully Submitted,

Edee Edwards, Selectboard Vice Chair