By Conrad Dudderar
EL RENO – Emergency responders across southwest Oklahoma came to Canadian County last week to train so they can better serve their communities.
The Southwest Oklahoma Emergency Management regional workshop was March 9-11 at the Canadian County Expo & Event Center, 3001 Jensen Road East. The annual training event was postponed from Feb. 23-25 due to a winter snowstorm.
“Approximately 100 county, city and tribal emergency managers and 20 partner agencies from the southwest region of Oklahoma traveled to El Reno to take part in the annual spring workshop,” Canadian County Emergency Management Director Andrew Skidmore said. “We also had members from the central and northwest regions who came over just because of the location of our facility.
“It went really well. Everyone loved it.”
The Canadian County Expo & Event Center, which opened in July 2021 just south of Interstate 40, proved to be an ideal place for Canadian County’s emergency management agency to host the workshop.
“We had three days of ‘round-robin’-style training, rotating every hour and a half,” Skidmore explained.
The three-day training featured:
- A discussion panel with Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD), the American Red Cross and the Oklahoma Baptist Disaster Relief teams.
- Training on the role, design and functions of emergency operations centers (EOC) as part of a multi-agency coordination system in local, state and federal levels of government.
- Guidance on the Survey 123 app and FEMA public assistance, new technology designed to better assess damage after a disaster.
BLOOD DRIVE, DRUMMERS, DINNER
The workshop opened early Wednesday afternoon with a performance by three Cheyenne Arapaho tribal drummers and flag ceremony featuring a CA-tribal veterans’ motorcycle club.
The event included an Oklahoma Blood Institute blood drive on Thursday to support the Blood Emergency Readiness Corps. OBI is among seven blood centers in five states committed to collecting extra blood units on a rotating “on-call” schedule.
“The extra blood products will be held in reserve for any critical-need scenario, like a mass shooting or natural disaster,” Skidmore explained.
New southwest area officers elected during the recent workshop are Vice President Rachel Huey of Comanche County Emergency Management and Vice President (alternate) Kenneth Trent of Washita County Emergency Management.
Meanwhile, Great Plains Bank donated a grill to cook an annual fellowship dinner Thursday. The meal was provided by Jordan Powell and his company Emergency Cleanup.
This training was originally planned in September 2021 at Fort Sill Air Force Base in Lawton but had to be moved because of a surge in COVID-19 cases.
The Oklahoma Emergency Management Association’s annual conference will be March 26-31 at Choctaw Casino & Resort in Durant.
Skidmore serves as vice president on the state board of directors.