Posts tagged ‘office of emergency preparedness’

First responders take part in simulated seige

Becoming better prepared

Actors play the role of a hostage and members of an extremist group that has taken over a barge on Lake Charles as the Calcasieu Office of Emergency Preparedness and local law enforcement agencies conduct emergency responder exercises Thursday. BY BRAD PUCKETT

First responders and the U.S. Coast Guard spent Thursday morning taking part in a security exercise meant to simulate a hostage situation.

The exercise began on Memorial Day, when the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office began receiving information about terrorist activity and threats, said Cmdr. Matt Vezinot.

“We started narrowing it down to involving Southwest Louisiana and people upset about the oil spill,” Vezinot said. “That led us to determine it was domestic terrorism.”

The report of a stolen barge Thursday morning and the sight of “armed” terrorists on board took the drill into high gear.

In a real event, officials would have locked down the Civic Center, secured the area around the waterfront, and closed both Interstates 10 and 210.

The terrorists were armed with semiautomatic weapons, had two hostages, and were threatening to detonate a chemical bomb.


Officials first contacted the captors through a hostage negotiator. The terrorists were demanding that eco-terrorist prisoners be released.

When negotiations broke down, a tactical team prepared to board the boat, signaling the end of the exercise.

“A lot of it was about communicating with other agencies, planning and response to disasters, planned or natural,” Vezinot said.

The topic was chosen by the Calcasieu Office of Emergency Preparedness and Sheriff Tony Mancuso.

“They developed the topic by looking at local industries and current events,” Vezinot said. “We began getting information just over the past few days.”

Vezinot said that regardless of the incident, everything depends on planning and communication between different agencies.

OEP officials said they would like to do at least three similar exercises each year.

“A lot of these things, we’d also do during a natural disaster,” Vezinot said. “There were some kinks where assignments got mixed up, and we wanted to straighten that out in practice.”

Participating agencies included the Lake Charles Police Department, state police, the Lake Charles and Sulphur fire departments, and Union Pacific Railroad police.


June 4, 2010 at 6:45 pm

Forecast: More rain headed this way

*published Oct. 28, 2009

Some locations may get as much as eight inches

Local officials are warning residents that the area could see more rain and flooding over the next few days.

The National Weather Service projects that 3 to 5 inches of rain will fall, starting late today.

And forecasters say some locations may see more than 8 inches of rain before the bad weather moves out of the area early Friday.

Tides are expected to be 1 to 2 feet above normal, with water across some roads near waterways.

Dick Gremillion, director of the Calcasieu Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness, urges residents to be cautious around high water.

“You should do whatever you can to avoid high water,” Gremillion said. “If you don’t know how deep the water is, take an alternate route.”

The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office said it had to dispatch deputies to respond to about a dozen calls about vehicles stranded because of the weather on Monday.

Gremillion said these kind of calls tie up law enforcement and fire department resources.


October 28, 2009 at 10:04 am

OEP ready for flu

*published Apr. 27, 2009

No cases confirmed in La.; officials stress prevention
Calcasieu Emergency Preparedness officials said they are ready for the possibility of a viral outbreak in the area in the wake of recent reports on the spread of swine flu.

“We put procedures in place back in 2003 when the first cases of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) made news,” said Dick Gremillion, director of the Calcasieu Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness. “There has been a lot planning since that and news of the avian bird flu.”

Gremillion said he and area officials will meet today to discuss the flu outbreaks and plans the local officials have to handle potential pandemics.

A meeting scheduled Tuesday to discuss the coming hurricane season will also include talk about preventative steps against the swine flu.

Symptoms of swine flu are fever, coughing, sore throat, headache, chills and fatigue. There have also been reports of vomiting and diarrhea.

In a Sunday news conference in Baton Rouge, Gov. Bobby Jindal also stressed prevention.

He stated in a Sunday press release that the state Office of Homeland Security has activated its Crisis Action Team, which will monitor national trends on the swine flu and any reported cases in Louisiana.

There are no confirmed cases in Louisiana.

Hospitals and physicians were notified Friday, and the Louisiana Hospital Association is tracking hospital patient volumes, assessing hospital capacities’ and working with Louisiana pharmacies to maximize the availability of antiflu drugs.

Jindal encouraged residents to see a doctor as soon as possible if they experience any of the listed flu-like symptoms.

At a Sunday news conference, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the department had declared a public health emergency.

This allows a federal stockpile of about 12 million doses of Tamiflu to be moved to places where states can quickly get their shares, with priority given to the five states with known cases.

Jindal said 669,000 antiviral doses are earmarked for Louisiana, and should be shipped within seven days.

Until then, he said Louisiana has 370,443 Tamiflu treatments and 94,360 Relenza treatments in the state stockpile.

There are also 64,000 pediatric antiviral doses stockpiled in the state.

As of Sunday, the World Health Organization had 20 lab-confirmed human cases of the H1N1 swine influenza in the U.S., according to a press release.

Eight were in in New York; seven in California; two in Texas, two in Kansas and one in Ohio.

There were no deaths and one brief hospitalization.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated in a news teleconference Sunday that the seasonal vaccine has no affect on this strain of the virus, but treatments with drugs such as Tamiflu have proved successful.


April 27, 2009 at 7:54 pm