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Online database may better prepare emergency personnel
Local officials urge businesses to file emergency plans using online system
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Hall County firefighters Lee Moon, left, and Nathan DeFoor work Friday afternoon inside the departments’ All Hazard Response Unit. Local emergency officials are urging businesses to file their emergency response plans using the online E-Plan system, which gives first responders easier access to crucial information.

First responders are trained to jump into action during an emergency. Soon, they’ll have quicker access to crucial information before they jump.

Officials are working to get businesses to submit their emergency plans to a free online database of hazardous material information.

E-Plan includes information like what chemicals a business has on site and where they are located.

Generally, a hard copy of these plans is kept on a first responder team’s hazmat truck, according to William Wright, Hall County Emergency Management Agency coordinator.

But having online access to individual emergency response plans allows response teams to plan ahead for emergencies, officials say.

“It’s easier to do emergency response planning in a controlled fashion, instead of along the side of the road at the scene,” said Ted Jackson, a Georgia Department of Natural Resources program manager.

In case of a hazardous material spill, the database allows first responders to review what materials are on site at the spill and in the surrounding area.

The database also provides access to current weather reports, critical information in case of a chemical spill. Chemicals seep into the ground quickly during heavy rains, and strong winds can quickly spread chemical vapors, officials say.

Additionally, the database allows response teams to see maps that pinpoint facilities like schools, nursing homes and other places that may need to be evacuated.

Both the local emergency planning agency and the Georgia DNR’s Environmental Protection Division are urging businesses to take advantage of E-Plan, but participation is not required. Companies still can file their emergency response plans the traditional way.

“Businesses are required to file an (emergency response plan) with the state, their local fire department and their county (local emergency planning committee.) That’s three copies of the same report that they have to file, but with (E-)Plan they could submit the document once and that takes care of their reporting requirements,” Wright said.

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