MOUNT VERNON — The Knox County Emergency Management Agency is prepped and ready for an active year.
Board members heard Thursday several activities, ranging from active shooter trainings to response courses, that will involve the EMA in 2019.
“We’re going to be incredibly busy with trainings and exercises,” said EMA director Mark Maxwell. “There are some really good options for us to do some good training.”
One of the big ones planned for this year is a Vigilant Guard exercise with the National Guard. The event will be held Aug. 6-8 at the Knox County Fairgrounds and will involve participants from all over FEMA Region 5, which includes Ohio and several surrounding states.
“The goal is to try to push the limits in response. It will start off as a cyber threat and expand to include multiple locations in Ohio,” Maxwell said.
There will also be two school active shooter training exercises. The first will be a tabletop exercise Feb. 27, while the second will be a full-scale exercise at the Knox County Career Center on June 19.
Maxwell reported there will be several training programs offered this year as well, including an elected officials training Feb. 9, a Public Information Officer Awareness course May 16 and an active threat integrated response course April 22-26.
A long-term recovery committee meeting, which includes officials from several businesses and non-profit organizations, will be held Jan. 28.
The board also heard from Zach Green about his research into a possible call center in the case of a large scale disaster. Green said BPO American, a company in South Carolina, would seem to be the best fit for the county EMA. BPO American would charge an initial $650 fee to set up the call center and provide up to 500 minutes of responses to calls from local residents about the disaster.
He said that would free up local first responders and other officials to help with other duties during the disaster. The cost includes $250 for the set-up and $400 for the initial 500 minutes of call time. Any additional time would be charged at 80 cents per minute.
Board member Thom Collier recommended it, but said that any county contracts like this one would have to be approved by the Knox County Commissioners. A motion was passed to have the commissioners pursue the contract with BPO American.
The EMA board also approved the budget for 2019, which was the same as 2018 except for a 3 percent raise for Maxwell and $35,000 additional for the possible purchase of a new vehicle for Maxwell. He currently drives a 2014 Chevy Tahoe with 60,000 miles on it, and it was brought up at a previous meeting they could purchase a new one for a very good price if they sold that one while it still had some life left in it.
The budget was approved.
The next quarterly meeting will be Thursday, April 11, at 4 p.m.