Richfield is presented with StormReady certification
Winter, summer, spring or fall, natural disasters can hit during any season. Richfield's first responders are ready for any natural disaster. Now. they have the certification to prove it.
At the February 26 city council meeting a representative from the National Weather Service bestowed city officials with the StormReady certification.
The certification is given to communities that undergo training for disaster preparedness, specifically done by the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
“Receiving the StormReady certification shows residents that we are prepared to respond to a disaster using established best practices,” explained Police Chief Jay Henthorne. “Our staff are ready and our residents are ready.”
Richfield’s CERT team is a group of volunteers who have gone through special training on how to act in crisis situations, learning everything from disaster medical operations and basic fire suppression to how to stockpile emergency supplies in the case of a natural disaster.
Their training prepares them, in any kind of emergency, to take care of themselves and their families for at least 72 hours and up to a week.
While it’s easy to think of natural disasters as something that only happens in the movies, Public Safety Department instructor Charlie O’Brien’s interest in the importance of disaster preparedness began at a young age, when he was chased down the highway by a tornado.
When he started working as a community service officer and dispatcher in 1987, he witnessed the effects of a superstorm, one of the biggest he has seen in Richfield.
“There was so much rain that I-494 was closed,” he recounts. “There were cars underwater.”
Storms are important to have on our radar; however, the StormReady certification also helps the city in the likelihood of a technical disaster.
There is an abundance of railroad tracks and freeways running through Richfield, some of which carry hazardous materials.
“The certification is a matter of being prepared for all hazards,” says O’Brien.
The process of becoming StormReady certified entailed hours of preparation and planning over the past several years, reviewing the city’s emergency operations center, as well as emergency operations plans, which are coordinated both internally and through the Southwest Metro planning group with other Hennepin County communities.
The hours of training had to be documented and submitted. Having properly reviewed systems in place make it easier to get relief support from FEMA in the wake of a disaster, and with the training also encouraging personal preparedness, the certification is a win-win for the city and everyone involved.