Preparing for an emergency

By Sarah Hawley -

POMEROY — Local emergency preparedness personnel joined together Tuesday in a practice run with the assembly of the BlueMed tent which can be utilized in emergency response situations.

Frank Gorscak, emergency response coordinator for the Meigs County Health Department, explained that each year personnel train on assembly of the tent to make sure the equipment is in working order, as well as ensuring personnel know how to assemble it in case of emergency.

The tents were initially developed by the U.S. Army, and over the past several years have been utilized by hospitals and areas where there may not be quick access to emergency facilities.

Meigs County received the BlueMed tent in 2008 through the Ohio Hospital Association. The tent in Meigs County is to be utilized by multiple counties in the region, if needed, said Gorscak.

The tent can serve in multiple capacities, as a mobile hospital, emergency shelter or as a command center. Included with the tent are 20 beds, electricity (generator), lighting, heat, air conditioning and a weather-proof covering.

Gorscak explained that the county utilized the tent for several days approximately six years ago following the tornado in the Reedsville area. In that instance, the tent was used as an emergency operations center, with phone and internet capabilities added by Windstream.

Tuesday’s training set a record for the quickest time to assemble the tent, Gorscak said, with the time of one hour, 35 minutes, beating the previous time by about 10 minutes. He said when the tent was first shown during a demonstration eight years ago, it took the team of four men from the Army an hour to assemble it.

After assembly was complete, the team of public health emergency response coordinators met to go over emergency plans.

The tent and equipment is housed at the Meigs County Health Department. In addition to the tent in Meigs County, there is one in Perry County and at Southern Ohio Medical Center in Portsmouth.

By Sarah Hawley