Rutland officials to take disaster training - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Rutland officials to take disaster training

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"If you don't have a program in place to manage the situation, the situation will manage you," Rutland City Fire Chief Bob Schlachter said.

Chief Schlachter says with the city's history with destructive natural disaster, being prepared is key. Since 9/11, all first responders are required to have disaster response training by the Department of Homeland Security. As Rutland's emergency manager, Schlachter says that training shouldn't stop with first responders.

"We need municipal officials to understand their role in the system because they make policy decisions during incident situations," Schlachter said. "So, it's important they know how everything fits together and where they fit in the overall structure of managing a major disaster."

And with more severe storms in the forecast, Rutland City Mayor Chris Louras says it's time to train up. City department heads will be required to complete a three-hour disaster response training that is designed specifically for executives and administrators. The training isn't for first aid; Louras says it focuses on big picture decisions during crisis situations, like chain of command, and how to relay public information.

"What the training will do will allow those individuals whose job is not in the public safety realm, who historically don't respond to disaster, get them the training so when they are in a disaster situation, they are not on-the-job training," Louras said.

Additionally, the mayor is strongly recommending that all individuals in decision making roles will take the training, including the Board of Aldermen. President of the Board of Alderman, Dave Allaire, says even though the training is not required, the more certifications the better.

"Well, even if the other members of the board are not actually in command, I think they are spread out throughout the city and they can help in their neighborhoods spreading the word about what exactly needs to be done, especially in the short term and public safety is at the top of everybody's agenda," Allaire said.

And word of the training is giving some locals peace of mind.

"I think that there is no down side to it," said Rosalie Fox, a teacher. "I think it is essential to get everyone trained. You never know when a disaster is going to hit and we all need to be prepared for it. And the worst thing that could happen is to have a disaster and no one prepared."

As the threat of damaging storms lingers in the clouds, Mayor Louras says they will be hoping for the best and training for the worst.

The course will be taught by a certified internal trainer, and will not cost the city any money to hold. The mayor hopes the training sessions will begin within several weeks.

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