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Local Emergency Planning Committee’s (LEPC) Essay


Introduction

The Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) have the mandate of preparing and maintaining detailed emergency plans as stated in the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Since the year 1987, the state emergency response commission (SERC), as stated in the Connecticut General Statutes’ Section 22a-601 (b) (DEMHS 1), created local planning districts.

Upon recognizing that towns and cities are vulnerable to numerous threats and disasters such as ice storms, aircraft accidents, hurricanes, forest fires, earthquakes, and tornadoes, the Local Emergency Planning Committee prepares for these emergencies besides making appropriate plans to deal with them in the event of their occurrence (SERC 1).

The paper looks at the components of LEPT, meetings, and the existing plans in the town of New London. It also evaluates the possible change suggestions and improvements for the plan.

Components of the LEPC

The management of the LEPT consists of the Chief Executive Officer who is charged with the management of significant emergencies, resource mobilization, and ordering of any evacuations from the disaster. The assistant to the chief executive officer is the “Emergency Management Director who has the task of managing and organizing the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC)” (SERC 1).

He/she also serves in establishing communication within EOC, departmental coordination, and coordinating emergency plans. The third member of the committee is the fire leader (superior fire leader-in-charge). He or she is responsible for the determination of any areas vulnerable to catastrophes that need evacuation. He/she may also order any evacuations as deemed necessary (DEMHS 1).

The emergency management communication officer is responsible for coordinating radio communications in the EOC in response to disasters. Other members represent the various departments involved with emergency response including the fire department, police department, EOO manager, public works department, emergency management director, public information officer, and health and medical coordinator.

The response further includes communications coordinator, warning coordinators, evacuation coordinator, shelter/mass care coordinator, resource manager, town attorney, superintendent of schools, treasurer, military department, volunteer organizations, private utility companies, animal care, and control coordinator among other tasked organizations (SERC 5).

Meetings

An annual review of the local emergency planning committee’s emergency plan is followed according to the regional guidelines. This keeps emergency response plans for the town up-to-date. The LEPC meets once after every two months with the main meeting taking place annually when the strategies and plans are reviewed.

Members are also elected with reports on preparedness and financing alongside normal business being made (DEMHS 1). The last update in the emergency response plan was made a year ago in the annual meeting with the members unanimously agreeing on the changes.

Personal opinions

The disaster preparedness team is a necessary department in any modernized society in the light of the experience in disasters and emergencies. The United States and the state of Connecticut in particular are susceptible to accidents and natural disasters especially forest fires.

In the past episodes, there have been losses of life that could have been prevented in the presence of adequate disaster preparedness. The opportunity is now present with the establishment of LEPC especially that of New London. The organization should however be objective in its plans and strategies with proper definition of the various roles to be played.

Limitations and Suggestions

The elaborate plans made by the LEPC are adequate. They will prove effective should a disaster occur. However, there is a little knowledge on the existence of the body among the citizens with most of them being oblivious of the safety measures in the case of a disaster. This seems evident in the previous response in disasters in the recent past.

There is also no clear demarcation of the roles of the various members especially on who is responsible for major decisions on the evacuations between the fire department and the Chief Executive Officer. Despite the above shortfalls, the body has effectively laid down strategies, which are simplistic and easy to follow.

Minimum possible resources are planned for with a true reflection of the real situation in disasters. The communication department is effective in communicating changes to the departments involved with various drills being evident especially in the police department.

Given the opportunity to lead the committee, my role would be championing for awareness, disaster preparedness, and response to disasters among the residents of the town.

This would involve more adverts, posters, booklets, and setting up of more drills in public places and buildings. A law on safety requirements for various public areas is also required. The committee is a good body/instrument that can champion this matter.

Lead agency for Hazardous Materials

The efficient handling of hazardous materials within the town falls under the LEPC (SERC 3). The fire section is charged with the responsibility of separating, steadying, and controlling occurrences of risky stuffs until their proper elimination and dumping.

Actions involved include evacuation and other measures relevant in protecting the town’s inhabitants from the hazards (SERC 1). In the event of a hazardous material accident, the person serving as the senior-fire-officeholder-in-charge is responsible for giving directions in the scene of the accident.

The other person serving the same role is the municipal fire chief as stated in Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-know Act (EPCRA) (DEMHS 4). The Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) “under the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), as specified under Title 22a, Chapter 446e, has the responsibility of planning for any material incidents in the community” (SERC 1).

It therefore stands out as a crucial body that defines the effectiveness of any actions taken in this kind of an emergency.

Fire Department role

The fire department has a central role in LEPC. Its preparedness is crucial in any disaster management. In the occurrence of a catastrophe, the section ships vehicles, workforce, and instrumentation to the place of the disaster. When an EOC is activated during an emergency, the department also sends a representative to aid in planning and management.

It also briefs the EOC on the situation on the ground (SERC 12). The fire department “manages the rescue operations in the scene, determines the need for evacuations, and directs fire operations and the resources available” (SERC 13).

The department is also responsible for protecting those at risk from the disaster by evacuating them to safer grounds. It also briefs all the other responsible organizations on the dangers involved especially during the emergency operations.

Conclusion

The Local Emergency Planning Committee is charged with the responsibility of planning adequately before disasters and emergencies. The membership and roles are defined in each locality with the various members involved having defined functions. The disaster preparedness in the town is adequate with improvements needed in the public sensitization methods.

Works Cited

DEMHS. Model Local Emergency Operations Plan, 2012. Web.

SERC. Local Emergency Planning Committees, 2012. Web.

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IvyPanda. "Local Emergency Planning Committee's (LEPC)." January 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/local-emergency-planning-committees-lepc/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Local Emergency Planning Committee's (LEPC)." January 21, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/local-emergency-planning-committees-lepc/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Local Emergency Planning Committee's (LEPC)'. 21 January.

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