The new 2022 Poweshiek County Emergency Management special fitted Tahoe.
By J.O. Parker
Poweshiek County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) and director Brian Paul recently took delivery of a special fitted 2022 Chevrolet Tahoe.
The new EMA vehicle replaces a 2012 Tahoe that according to Paul was showing its age in mileage (109,000), wear and tear, rust and maintenance and repairs. The agency is scheduled to replace its vehicle every 10 years.
“Like many other departments and agencies, we use our vehicles daily and have to be able to respond to incidents, travel to meetings, and conduct other job-related functions outside the office,” said Paul.
Paul said some of the features in the old vehicle were great for the time, but advancements in technology has really come a long way in the last few years, especially in response type vehicles.
Some of the features include WeCanX Siren and Light Controller, Arges 360 spotlight, separate radio in the rear for all service calls and a full TRUCKVAULT, a custom-built secure storage drawer that takes up the rear cargo area of the vehicle.
“It (the TRUCKVAULT) can be customized to have various configurations and setup to meet the needs of whatever agency is using it,” said Paul. “Ours is setup with two drawers to hold mainly some equipment I may need to use in the field, as well as a small pull-out table/work bench I can use as desk or use for our drone, and a magnetic white board that can be used during incidents to keep track of resources, personnel, and take general notes if need be. These rear cabinets keep everything nice and secure and organized rather than just loosely rolling around in the back.”
The new vehicle is also equipped with a much better LED warning light package that will allow for better visual cues to other motorists during an emergency response. It also has an upgraded siren that is louder, so it offers a better audible cue to other motorists, too.
“Hopefully, with these two improved features, other drivers will be able to see and hear me coming better than before and can safely pull to the right and yield,” said Paul. “This vehicle also offers spotlights for providing scene lighting at night making it easier to operate in, which was not an available feature on the old vehicle. There is also some upgraded technology in the vehicle with a mobile wireless router on board that can provide a safe, secure, and reliable internet connection in the field. This can be extremely helpful as many programs and software we use are web-based and require an internet connection to operate. I essentially use this vehicle as a mobile office.”
The new vehicle was purchased at Karl Chevrolet through the State of Iowa’s vehicle bid contract. The vehicle was then sent to Karl Emergency Vehicles, an upfitter who puts all the equipment on and in the vehicle.
“The upfitter has many of these components like the lights, sirens, spotlights, etc. on hand as they are commonly used throughout all their builds they do for agencies across the state,” Paul said. “This vehicle in total is about $54,000. It took approximately five weeks to outfit and get ready for us to take ownership.”
Poweshiek County EMA
Poweshiek County Emergency Management is responsible for disaster and large-scale emergency response, preparedness, mitigation, and recovery across the county.
“We are the conduit between the local, city and county services and resources and the state and federal government services and resources,” noted Paul. “I respond to all disasters across the county such as the derecho, tornado events, high winds and conduct damage assessments. Based on those assessments, the magnitude of the damage, and the needs of the community, I will order state resources to help support recovery operations. I am also responsible for opening shelters for those displaced, bringing in state and federal aid, and other support services to aid in recovery.”
“I respond to many different emergencies across the county to assist area departments with resource management and coordination, accountability, and as a technical advisor,” added Paul. “Some of these emergencies include fires in high occupancy/high life dwellings like schools, hospitals, apartments, industrial sites, nursing/assisted living; hazardous materials incidents, search and rescue missions, missing persons, and anything considered a Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) like large multi-car pileups, or God forbid, an active shooter situation.”
Paul is also in charge of planning with area departments and agencies to better prepare the county and keep residents more resilient to emergencies and disasters.
“Some of these efforts include conducting drills and exercises to test various plans and assess our ability to handle certain situations and incidents,” he said. “Based on the results of these drills and exercises, we can learn our strengths and weaknesses and make the necessary changes to become more resilient.”
Paul is also in charge of updating and reviewing response plans, networking with local governments, agencies, departments, and key community stakeholders and developing effective plans, conducting drills and exercising of those plans, writing grants, maintaining our equipment, training and continuing education, and responding to incidents as requested and needed among other things.
Paul has been the Poweshiek County EMA Coordinator since November 2017. Paul’s background is in fire and EMS service.
“I am originally from Colorado and worked for a full-time fire department for almost 12 years as a firefighter/paramedic before coming to Iowa where I continued to work as a full-time paramedic and part-time firefighter/paramedic for a couple years before applying for this position and taking the leap to the Emergency Management world,” he said.
In his spare time, Paul remains active as a paramedic working part-time with the ambulance service in Oskaloosa and as the assistant chief of the Grinnell Fire Department as a volunteer.
“I got my start as a first responder in 2003, so this June will be my 19th year in the world of emergency services,” said Paul.
Paul said his goal is to have everyone in the county sign up for the free emergency notification system, which allows the agency to send emergency alerts and notices out to alert you of any dangers that may be present like a hazmat spill, evacuation needs, law enforcement presence for dangerous or suspicious persons and more.
“We can also send alerts providing information on shelters and disaster recovery services that may be available,” Paul said. “We can also send alerts out asking people to keep an eye out for missing persons. It really is a valuable resource and, like I said, it’s free.”
Poweshiek County residents can sign up by going to the EMA website www.poweshiekready.org and clicking on the Alert Iowa icon on the page.
“The website also has more information on what Emergency Management is, what we do, and different resources and preparedness tips available to you,” said Paul.