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Pepperell adopts uniform emergency response system <p>

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PEPPERELL — Selectmen have adopted the National Incident Management System (NIMS) as the standard by which all municipal agencies are guided in preparing for, responding to and recovering from any domestic emergencies, regardless of size.

Their unanimous decision, made at their Sept. 26 meeting, places Pepperell in conformity with federal and state policies initiated this year by Homeland Security Directive 5, according to the resolution that was signed by the board.

In essence, the resolution means the town endorses the use of standardized operational structures and terminologies and has chosen to adopt uniform command, planning and training standards, as well as the use of communications that can be shared on many platforms.

Selectmen encourage all town personnel and departments to implement or continue to use the NIMS incident command system curriculum for all training, planning and execution for both natural and man-made incidents.

Town administrator Robert Hanson provided an easily understood example of what NIMS means.

“Suppose you had a large scale emergency to which, say, New York firefighters have come to work here and one of them called for a bus,” he said. “In New York, a bus means an ambulance. Here, you would get, a bus. With NIMS, everyone uses the same words.”

In NIMS language, this is called standard resource typing, according to its Web site www.fema.gov/nims/. The typing helps responders request and deploy resources through the use of common terminology.

A fundamental part of NIMS is a national emergency responder credentialing system, which provides incident commanders the means to quickly verify the identity and qualifications of emergency personnel who respond to an incident. The system can also help prevent unauthorized, self-dispatched or unqualified personnel access to an incident site.

The system has identified working groups that have credentials for minimum qualification, certification, training and education. The groups include incident command, emergency medical services, firefighting, hazardous materials response, law enforcement, health care, public health, public works and search and rescue personnel.

A year ago last month, the secretary of Homeland Security outlined a series of steps that must be taken to become compliant with NIMS in a letter sent to every state governor.

It called for state and local level jurisdictions to complete the NIMS awareness course called National Incident Management System, An Introduction – IS 700. It is an individually independent study that explains the purpose, principles, key components and benefits of the system.

It now falls on Pepperell to decide which and what level of emergency personnel should take the course.

All emergency personnel with a direct role in preparedness, incident management or response are encouraged to take the course. It is offered free-of-charge through the Emergency Management Institute (http://training.fema.gov/EMIWeb/IS/crslist.asp).

At the local level, emergency response providers, disaster workers, emergency medical service personnel, firefighters, medical personnel, police officers, public health personnel, public works/utility personnel and other emergency management response personnel are included on the list.

According to the NIMS Web site, the introductory course very likely will be a requirement in fiscal 2006 for state and local personnel who have emergency assignments at any level of government.

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