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SUNDAY, JUNE 17, 2007
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Morgan buys tent for emergencies

By Sheryl Marsh
smarsh@decaturdaily.com · 340-2437

Morgan County has almost $40,000 of homeland security funds to spend and some of it will buy a tent for emergency workers who help in disasters such as hurricanes.

The County Commission approved an agreement with the state Homeland Security Department for $28,508 for mutual aid teams.

Also, the commission gave Morgan Emergency Management Agency Director Eddie Hicks authority to negotiate a $9,445 bid with a company for a tent for emergency workers who go to help in different cities in the state after disasters.

Hicks said the larger amount will pay for training for Decatur Fire and Rescue employees, who make up a regional medium aid team.

“There will be several different classes they will attend,” Hicks explained.

“This will be done across the state. It will be beneficial locally because, say for instance if a structure collapsed, the team would be trained to immediately go in and do search and rescue.”

The tent Hicks plans to buy will shelter workers when they help in disasters locally or out of town.

“It’s an inflatable tent for them to sleep in while on site when disaster strikes,” Hicks said.

How safe is a tent during stormy periods?

“It’s not for them to use during the storm,” he explained. “It’s for after the storm, when they go to the site to help.”

If a storm resurfaces, “Then they would have to take shelter somewhere else,” said Hicks.

Johnny Cantrell, a planning/operations officer, said the mutual aid team goes throughout the state helping after damaging storms.

“Like in Hurricane Katrina, a city requested the aid of a medium rescue team through the state EMA and the agency looked at available teams and found that Decatur’s team fit the requirements and they were dispatched through us by the state to that location. That’s why it’s important for them to have somewhere to sleep.”

Cantrell explained that teams are categorized as heavy, medium or light based on the amount of equipment and personnel.

Hicks said the money for training and the tent is a portion of EMA’s $120,000 allotment from the state.

The state earmarks the money for various purposes, such as the tent and training, Hicks said.

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