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Southland reps get emergency eyeopener

Monday, April 28, 2014
Daily Southtown
by STEVE METSCH

When there are emergencies in communities in Cook County, be they manmade or natural disasters, towns can turn to the Cook County

Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for assistance.

The county department, which has three centers where it stores emergency equipment, gave officials a tour of the south emergency center on the grounds of the former county hospital at 159th Street and Cicero Avenue in Oak Forest.

“These serve as locations where we store a lot of our equipment. Today is an opportunity to bring in our partners to see what equipment is available to them,” Michael masters, the department’s executive director since 2011, said.

Each of the three centers have a mobile command post that can be sent to the site of an emergency. Each is “regularly requested and deployed whether it’s for a street festival, a large public gathering, a sports event with thousands of people or for a law enforcement issue or a fire event,” Masters said.

“I’m a big believer that if you have equipment, you want to get it out in the field. You want to have first responders using it so if something does happen, they know how to use it,” he said.

There were emergency lighting systems on display along with water pumps that can produce up to 1,700 gallons per minute. Tours also were given of the mobile command center, and other items were available for viewing, too.

An ordinary looking truck was opened up to reveal a stage and a wide range of equipment that first responders are familiar with such as saws and “the jaws of life.”

“Everything on here they’d be immediately familiar with. There’s no learning curve. We want to provide what they are working with so we don’t have someone say, ‘I don’t know how to use this’,” Masters said.

Brian Kolosh, deputy fire chief in South Holland, was impressed by what he saw and likes that “the assets are here, just one quick call away.”

Officials from Worth, Crestwood, Bridgeview and other Southland towns were on hand for the tours. Worth Mayor Mary Werner said it’s good to know such equipment is nearby if needed.

Nancy Cistaro, secretary of the Crestwood Emergency Management Agency, said “this is good for us to see. They have some really nice equipment here. Very impressive.

“It’s hard. Everyone has been hit economically,” Cistaro said. “Looking for grants, it’s hard. We can’t go out and buy these things. So this helps a lot. The portable surveillance gear would have helped in the two years we had the Stanley Cup visit Crestwood.”

Organizations such as the Suburban Mutual Aid Response Team, which combines communities in emergency response, benefit also, Cistaro said.

Don Pointer, commander of Bridgeview’s Emergency Management Agency, said the “county is really stepping up to provide major assets.

“We have a couple of areas (in the village) that, in big rains, get overwhelmed, so pumps like this would come in handy,” he said nodding toward a pump with a 4-inch line that can emit 1,000 gallons per minute.

Masters was pleased to hear that area officials enjoyed their visit.

“This equipment belongs to the taxpayers, and we want it out there every single day to assist (first responders) in their mission,” he said. “We attempt to develop technology solutions like the general weather boards our partners can access through our website. We’ve got a good

team, and we’ve come a long way.”



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