State/County Agencies team up for Disaster Symposium - WNCT

State/County Agencies team up for Disaster Symposium

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Disasters are unpredictable but hundreds of people take pride in keeping our state prepared for the worst.

Law enforcement agencies and rescue teams from across North Carolina came together in Greenville for a "Disaster Symposium."

After the Boston Marathon bombings on Monday and a deadly fertilizer plant explosion early Thursday morning.

State Emergency Management director, Michael Sprayberry says agencies across the state have been meeting with the governor and reviewing their policies. And in the case of a disaster, he says North Carolina is ready.

"We've got a checklist for every scenario. That's what we try to do. And we try to exercise it. So we've had a bio-terrorism exercise, we've had cyber-security exercises, hurricane exercises, earthquake exercises," Sprayberry said.

Although "Mother Nature" is usually to blame for disasters...

"Flooding is our greatest risk," Sprayberry said.

Tragedies like the bombings in Boston can happen anywhere. That's why agencies from across the state came together Thursday. It was a time to showcase all the high-tech equipment our state has, but also a time to plan and prepare.

"Part of the effort that's ongoing is planning incidents like this for training and getting out and knowing who our regional partners are. When a time of crisis does occur, we can be prepared whether it's natural, or man-made," said Captain Greg Hardee, with Greenville Fire-Rescue.

"We don't take anything for granted because when you get complacent and you start taking things for granted that's when you end up in trouble," said Sprayberry.

They're preparing for tomorrow's disaster by planning today.

The symposium was also a chance to show off some pretty high-tech gear.

Greenville Fire-Rescue had their "Task Force 10 Urban Search and Rescue" communication center out. It's one of the few in the state. Inside the mobile truck are cameras, computers, and satellite phones. They even feed back live video via Facetime.

"We got responders we can put down range and utilize technology back here for us to capture and record and utilize and send up to the state. Whether it's damage assessment, whether it's body counts, setting up hot zones," said Captain Greg Hardee.

The "Hazmat Recon Robot" was also featured at the event. The $165,000 remote-controlled device can detect chemicals and bombs.

"We can have this deployed much faster than a person," said Captain Kenny Warren, Williamston Fire-Rescue/State Hazmat.

There are 7 Regional Rapid Response teams equipped with this kind of gear across the state. One of them is in Williamston.  The technology is so advanced; other states are now modeling their hazmat programs after it.

"You can never prepare for everything but with the resources we have available right here…I think we can handle it as well as anywhere in the country," said Warren.

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