Annual emergency management summit in Minn. focuses on networking, skills development
Over 50 gathered to discuss disaster response and recovery options
By James Allen
Fergus Falls Daily Journal
OTTER TAIL COUNTY, Minn. — Disaster can strike without a moment's notice.
Whether it is a tornado, fire or other event that requires the response of all available area law enforcement and emergency medical responders.
The ninth annual Emergency Management Summit took place on Apr. 20 with the subtitle of and theme titled, "Operation Prep Kit." With over 50 professionals from around the region in attendance, the focus was networking, learning new skills and interacting with other emergency responders to share experiences and preparedness resources.
Otter Tail County Emergency Manager Patrick Waletzko highlighted tools responders and communities may use to gain situational awareness about an incident and how people have been affected, including the Damage Self-Report Form, Smart911 and Rave Facility. These resources are also available for the public on the County's website.
The summit covered what different officials would do in the event of what they refer to as a disaster continuum, from emergency response to short and long-term recovery.
The list of participants was lengthy and included the Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Reed Reinbold, Fergus Falls Police Sgt. Connor West, Fergus Falls Fire Department Safety Training Officer Dan Lipson, Perham Health's Director of EMS and Emergency Management Jim Rieber, Bjorn Ringdahl of Ringdahl Ambulance Services, Inc., Ottertail City Maintenance Coordinator and Emergency Manager Justin Lohse and Otter Tail County Dispatcher and Battle Lake Rescue Squad member Derek Mansker.
Reinbold also provided A.L.I.C.E training. A.L.I.C.E stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. A.L.I.C.E prepares either school districts and other places where people gather to be prepared with proactive, options-based strategies for an active shooter on campus situation while remaining age and ability appropriate.
The presentation instructed the audience on ways to respond to a violent incident with confidence. Reinbold has shared this training with several local school districts, churches and businesses as well: "This training allows for responses individuals are comfortable with and adds a few more preparedness options to practice and keep in mind if ever needed."
Another presenter and attendee, Julie Anderson, Douglas County emergency management director, shared details of the devastating tornadoes that hit Douglas County on May 12 and 30, 2022. She provided tips for damage assessments and recovery work from a county government perspective.
Another exercise they did was called "Putting it All Together" that is designed to collaborate, network and share ideas to continue building community resilience to emergencies across the county.
"The Emergency Management Summit has always been an excellent event to connect and engage regional partners — new and old — to collaborate and prepare for whatever may lie ahead. And this year was no exception," said Waletzko.
More information about emergency preparedness can be found at ottertailcounty.gov.
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