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Talent readies for the worst

A shed full of supplies will be available to emergency responders after the Talent City Council approved spending $2,200 from its discretionary fund for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Talent has no emergency supplies in town for first responders, according to a request for funds made by the city’s Together for Talent Committee. Items could be used by Community Emergency Response Team members who live in Talent.

“Talent is at the very end of the supply chain when (the) Cascadia (earthquake) happens. Talent will be the last one to get help,” said Councilor John Harrison, whose wife, Kittie, is spearheading CERT efforts in the town.

Together for Talent helps coordinate a variety of efforts in town. The council unanimously approved funding $5,049 in committee requests June 20. In addition to the emergency cache, there was also support for Bee City USA, the Harvest Festival, the Clean Energy Team, a Zero Waste Team and other efforts.

“The city needs to provide for people who are elderly or infirm or incapable one way or the other just to make sure we can take care of everyone who has not done their due diligence,” said committee Chair Dorian Hastings.

Besides a 7-by-7-foot storage shed, other emergency items include two 55-gallon water storage barrels, water purification tablets, eight cases of MREs (meals ready to eat) and an emergency shelter tent that would provide bed space for 12 individuals.

A location for the shed hasn’t been selected, although Hasting said she felt it should be placed on city property. The committee would like to eventually see four supply caches located around town.

“We’ve had emergency preparedness for three years as part of the budget. This is the first time we have asked for more than a couple hundred dollars,” said committee member Charles Roome, who prepared the request working with Kittie Harrison.

Last year’s request led to the purchase of two ham radio setups. The previous year the committee was able to purchase “Go Bags” at a substantial reduction from Ashland CERT and make them available to community members. The bags include nonperishable food, a small first-aid kit and other emergency items.

Harrison has been raising awareness about emergency preparedness for several years in Talent and has headed efforts to create a CERT team for the city since 2016. In 2013, a Bear Creek CERT disbanded due to liability insurance issues.

CERT volunteers in Talent presently are under Ashland’s CERT program. That provides liability insurance and training for the 20 volunteers from Talent, said Terri Eubanks, Ashland community preparedness director. Ashland has 210 trained, active CERT volunteers, including the 20 from the Talent area.

“As part of Ashland CERT, they are invited to attend all meetings and trainings. They would operate separately if roads and bridges are out,” said Eubanks.

Equipment the Talent volunteers would need for response is stored at Jackson County Fire District 5 Station One just north of city limits. Fire District 5 supports the CERT effort, and it is a high priority for the organization, said District 5 Chief Charles Hanley. Ashland has a permanent CERT coordinator but the district has none.

“Until there is more local participation and more of a robust program, it’s best to work under Ashland,” said Hanley. “They have a permanent coordinator, and it’s very strong. Working under Ashland CERT is the best thing for us.”

Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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