Committee Focuses On Future Of Cannon County's Security

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The Cannon County Homeland Security Committee met recently for their regular quarterly meeting at the Cannon County Courthouse.

The first order of business was brought forth by Cannon County Rescue Squad Director Tim Bell, who made a motion to establish the meeting dates for the committee to be the first Tuesday of every quarter in January, April, July and October. The motion passed.

The next thing the Committee needed to do was elect a secretary. Cannon County Sheriff Darrell Young nominated Cannon County E-911 Director Roy Sullivan and the motion passed.

Sullivan then gave a report on the Pleasant Ridge Tower project. The tower phase of the project is complete and the process has begun in finding cell phone companies that would be interested in renting space on the tower.

Bell stated there were two areas that needed be addressed. One was education of area responders and the second was equipment.

He stated that it has been six years since the implementation of NIMS (National Incident Management System) and asked what the status was for Cannon County being NIMS compliant.

Cannon County EMA Director Faye Morse stated that as of September 1 of last year all agencies were compliant.

Bell then expressed concerned with Cannon County's ability to integrate with other counties during a mutual aid incident and asked if every agency had a copy of the County Response guide.

Morse said there was a Basic Emergency Operations Plan awaiting approval in Washington and that it could not be issued until approved by the federal government. Sullivan asked if there was any way of searching the database to see who was compliant or not. Morse said it was the responsibility of the agency heads to maintain records on who is certified.

Bell expressed the concern of responders not following the basic NIMS recommendations when communicating on the radio. He asked if there was a position statement in plain English verses "10 codes" and whether UASI or TEMA had a position on it.

EMA employee Alan Morse stated it was a good question and needed to be checked into.

Faye Morse asked about the Tennessee Interoperability Plan at the county level. Sullivan answered by stating that the county had a generic statewide plan and not Cannon County specific. Faye Morse said that the purpose of the UASI committees was to meet and develop ways to communicate during major incidents involving multiple counties and not for day-to-day activities. Bell responded by saying that's what the local committee needed to establish. He then made a motion to table the matter and study it further at the next meeting.

Grady George reported that the county fire departments of Eastside, Westside and Gassaway all had fire trucks that were broken down and wondered if it would qualify as a Homeland Security issue. No decision was made, however, even though it was discussed about making a recommendation to the county commission.

Bell then brought up the idea of the Homeland Security Committee making a 5-to-10 year plan. Faye Morse said that there was a continuing decline of Homeland Security funding and the plan might be difficult to develop with that in mind. Bell said that there were other funds that could be used besides Homeland Security money and that the committee needed to focus on the future.

Bell suggested the focus of the plan would be in the areas of funding training and planning. After Alan Morse said that the committee didn't have any authority over other departments, Bell then asked if the state had a charter or mission statement that spelled out the direction and purpose of the Commitee. Alan Morse volunteered to look into the matter and bring it back up at the next meeting.

Sullivan stated there was an issue from the last meeting that was unresolved and that was in the area of the mobile and portable radios awarded from Homeland Security. Faye Morse said that the Homeland Security Task Force had met earlier in the day and talked about it.

According to the Task Force, the agency heads were to make recommendations to where the greatest needs were to ensure that radio communications were maintained during a major event. Sullivan then explained that he needed a copy of the radio asset inventories that the county fire departments submitted to her last year to start building radio templates for narrowband reprogramming. Faye Morse stated that she had a copy of all of them and would forward them to him. Sullivan asked if the EMA had an asset inventory of all the equipment that has been awarded to Cannon County through Homeland Security. Faye Morse told him that he already had a copy of everything she had.

Sullivan was concerned that it might be an issue for the Homeland Security Council come audit time. It was explained that the audit for Homeland Security funds and an state audit for money were two completely different audits. It was also explained that before any fund money that's awarded comes in, there are months of paperwork that has to be signed off on and send to the federal government. It can take up to six months for the paperwork to be approved.

The next meeting of the Homeland Security Council will be July 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the Stones River Hospital Conference Room in Woodbury.
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