WAUPUN – It would be misleading to say that Waupun is looking forward to an emergency, but many are eager to join the Integrated Emergency Management Course (IEMC) scheduled for April 25-28.
The event will give emergency personnel a chance to decree a crisis as a dry run at something that will hopefully never happen.
Joe Meagher, assistant director of emergency management, said the upcoming enactment has its roots in a course that was scheduled in Emmetsburg, Maryland. COVID-19 led to the cancellation, although it was hoped it might be rescheduled at some point in the future.
Emergency Management Director Amy Haase suggested bringing trainers to Dodge County, which was eventually pursued.
After an application was submitted to FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), a grant to bring trainers to Waupun was approved. Up to 100 personnel from the area’s police, fire and sheriff departments will attend the training sessions; State Patrol officers, emergency medical responders; hospitals, doctors and nurses; railway officials; prison staff; county department staff; officials from municipal, state and national agencies; volunteers and actors. Starting Monday, April 25, they will be engaged in training, preparing for a mock event on Thursday, April 28.
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Staff from Fond du Lac County and Dodge County will participate.
“This is a multi-year process that evolves to an eventual exercise,” Meagher said. “We started with a tabletop exercise with the city of Waupun. We moved to what they call a “functional” plan, which is a higher level plan where we go out into the community and decide where equipment and resources should go. This gave us some qualifications to apply for a grant from the federal government and through FEMA to receive funding.
He added: “Our facilities and the fact that we have done this before has given us the edge in the grant application process. It’s a great opportunity for us to work with all the partners. We were able to open it up to more participants because it’s local.
Grant funding is limited to a dozen selected communities and, in this case, will cover the cost of bringing trainers to Waupun and other incidental expenses. Local participants will pay for their own meals and attend exercises daily. Those who come from afar will stay in the available accommodation.
“It’s going to be a busy four days for sure,” said Waupun Fire Chief and Director of Emergency Management BJ DeMaa.
Waupun regularly held training events involving car accidents, material spills and other situations. Although an emergency scenario has been planned, it will be treated as a surprise.
“Other than those who planned it, no one else will know what the situation is until the day comes,” DeMaa said. “If I could outline what it’s going to be like, I’d say it’s going to be an event that will have a significant impact on much of the city.”
Area residents are asked to stay away from emergency personnel so the training can go on unhindered, although some attention is undoubtedly part of the experience.
Regarding the benefits of exercise, DeMaa said, “IEMS courses provide local, county, state, and federal partners the opportunity to really work together, collaborate, and train. We will all be playing from the same score. It’s really about trying to streamline the process and understanding everyone’s roles and responsibilities. That way, when you have these big events, it’s not the first time people get together.
He added, “In an ideal world, the event you plan never materializes. It’s all about the preparation.”