The Gilboa Dam in Schoharie County has received a lot of attention this year, as heavy rains have evoked concerns about it breaking, spilling its water into the Mohawk River and flooding communities along its banks such as Glenville.
Who would be in charge of managing the situation? How would emergency personnel help victims? What form of communication would be used? Wouldn't it be much better if each town had a plan?
The Incident Command System is part of a national program that has been developed over recent years to address these major issues. It's a highly structured integrated system that is intended to coordinate the actions of a large number of people who must work together to respond to an emergency, major event or situation.
Chairman of the Glenville town board Robert Bailey has taken several Incident Command System classes. He said the classes teach elected officials how to plan for an emergency situation by setting up a system.
Bailey said the program teaches five major function areas: command, operations, planning, logistics and finance administration.
Bailey said throughout the country, people depend on police, fire, emergency rescue people and EMTs for small emergencies. The Incident Command System helps towns be prepared for emergency situations that require the involvement of many emergency responders.
If a plane crashes down in Glenville, you would have an overload of local police and firefighters, not everyone would be able to go to Ellis (hospital), and roads would have to be closed, Bailey said. "This system is supposed to make sense out of a chaotic situation."
Bailey said a national system has been set up and run by the Department of Homeland Security to deal with emergency situations. The department is trying to push the system across the country into state and local governments. Bailey said he is skeptical about the top-down approach to this system.